Braintree: Firefighters pay tribute at funeral of colleague who died suddenly on holiday

THE funeral of one of Braintree’s longest serving firefighters who died suddenly on holiday was held yesterday.

Around 300 people packed out St Michael’s Church in the town where officers from Essex County Fire and Rescue formed a guard of honour for Stuart Townsend.

The 45-year-old father-of-two served as a retained firefighter in Braintree for 15 years. In 2007, he won the Dedication, Commitment and Service award in 2007 after saving a young woman from a house fire.

Mr Townsend, of Drake Gardens, died on September 2 while on holiday in Djerba, Tunisia, with his wife Pamela and daughter Charlotte, 17. It is not yet known what caused his death.

The coffin arrived on a vintage fire truck before being carried into the church by station colleagues.

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Close friend and colleague Derek Leathlean paid tribute after the service. “When he died it was completely out of the blue,” he said. “He was a lovely guy, he always had a smile on his face and always volunteered whenever he was available.”

Mr Townsend, who also leaves behind his son, Ben, 20, and twin brother Andrew, worked as a self-employed window cleaner.

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“He was well known around the town and always had time to stop and chat to everybody.

“That’s why so many people have come out today – it just shows how well liked he was.”

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