Girlfriend pays tribute to brave fireman

THE girlfriend of a firefighter who lost his life while bravely battling to save others in a high-rise flat blaze last night told the EADT he was a "wonderful man."

THE Suffolk girlfriend of a firefighter who lost his life while bravely battling to save others in a high-rise flat blaze last night told the EADT he was a "wonderful man."

Lizzie Honeycombe met Jeff Wornham when they were students at Framlingham College in the early 1990s and they started seeing each other three years ago after meeting again through their mutual love of cricket.

Mr Wornham, 28, from Royston in Hertfordshire, was killed along with colleague Michael Miller, 26, after attempting to rescue a second resident from a blaze in Harrow Court, Stevenage, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Miss Honeycombe, 25, originally of Bedfield, near Framlingham, said they had been planning to marry next year, but Mr Wornham had been waiting until a perfect summer's day to propose.

"He was my dream man and the most wonderful man. I am lucky to have had three years with him," she said.

"We had talked about our wedding and last weekend Jeff delivered a best man's speech at his best friend's wedding and I have never been prouder of him."

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Although Mr Wornham had trained at agricultural college with a plan to take over the family farm, he enlisted in the fire brigade after graduating because he wanted to help others and would be most use in the fire service.

Miss Honeycombe said they talked about absolutely everything – including the worst-case scenario of his job – and Mr Wornham wanted his ashes scattered on Lord's cricket ground and in a wood near their home, a bungalow on his family farm in Sandon, near Royston.

The couple last spoke on the phone the night before the fatal blaze and Miss Honeycombe said she is glad they got to say goodnight and "I love you" to each other before he died.

"He was such a hero. It was a big relief finding out he had gone peacefully and had not been in pain," she added.

She said Mr Wornham's parents, Robert and Christina, his sister Caroline and brother Tom, are also very proud of him.

"He was just the most kind-hearted, fun-loving, sociable man," she added. "He was one in a million. "He was such a family man, we loved him so much. He loved his family and friends and would do anything for any one of them."

A statement from the family said he saw the crew he worked with as his extended family and loved playing practical jokes on them, but never lost sight of his roots and enjoyed spending time working on the farm.

It added: "We have always been so proud of him, he was always so brave and selfless. He was loving and devoted to his family and to his life with Lizzie, renovating their home in his spare time.

"He really was one in million, a great guy who touched so many lives in a positive way."

Gwen Randall, headteacher at Framlingham College, said prayers were read at the school chapel on Friday and the school is planning on planting a tree and installing a bench in Mr Wornham's honour near the cricket pavilion.

"I'm pleased they'll be something living to remember him by. It means he'll still be able to watch the cricket," she said.

She added that he had been a very popular pupil and a great sportsman who used to come back to the college to play cricket after he had left.

"He was the sort of boy you couldn't help but like – a very normal teenager but who had not an ounce of malice in him," she said.

"He was keen on farming but it is typical of him that he went into a service area. Any death at 28 is tragic but it would have been futile if he had been knocked down by a car."

n A trust fund has been set up for the families of Mr Wornham and Mr Miller due to public demand.

Donations can be made at local fire stations or preferably by post, addressed to the Chief Fire Officer, Fire Service Headquarters, Old London Road, Hertford, Herts, SG13 7LD with cheques made payable to The Stevenage Fire Fighters' Fund.

Books of condolence have also been placed at Fire Service Headquarters in Old London Road, Hertford, and in the reception at Stevenage Borough Council, Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage.

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