Hundreds gather to honour ‘larger than life’ Worthing firefighter

Roy Stephens, 70, was honoured with a packed funeral service and a guard of honour SUS-190327-104757001
Roy Stephens, 70, was honoured with a packed funeral service and a guard of honour SUS-190327-104757001

Hundreds of well-wishers, family and friends gathered on Friday (March 22) to pay their respects to a popular former firefighter.

Roy Stephens, 70, was a member of West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service for 31 years and his funeral procession was met with a guard of honour from fellow servicemen on Friday.

Roy Stephens guard of honour SUS-190325-172759001

Roy Stephens guard of honour SUS-190325-172759001

His daughter Elaine Cackett, 44, paid tribute to the man she knew as her dad, but who had grown to become a ‘minor celebrity’ after living in Worthing his whole life.

“He was a larger-than-life personality, who knew everyone,” she said, adding she was ‘overwhelmed’ by the turnout at the service.

“He always had a story to tell and he was never a shrinking violet about anything.

“He loved being in the fire service. When he retired from that he found it very hard as he was very much a people person.”

Roy Stephens guard of honour SUS-190325-172812001

Roy Stephens guard of honour SUS-190325-172812001

After retiring from the service in 2004, Roy worked as a foreshore inspector in Worthing for the next nine years, patrolling the seafront and getting to know everybody in a role that Elaine said suited him down to the ground.

She said as children, she and her brother Antony remembered the most simple trips into town becoming drawn out as her father greeted friends and familiar faces. She said she soon realised they would have to share him with the rest of the town.

In 2013, Roy became a grandfather to Adam, and became known as ‘Grandad Fire Engine’ due to the many fire station open days and fire-engine-related gifts. Roy Barraclough, station manager at Worthing Fire Station, had known Roy for 40 years. He said Friday was a fantastic turnout and a fitting tribute.

“He was incredibly well liked, a very bubbly and welcoming person who was a good role model for the many firefighters who came up after him,” he said.

“His relatives wanted a celebration of his life, and that’s what we got.”