FIREFIGHTERS young and old have paid their respects to Ronald Hyatt from Witney, who has died at the age of 89.

Fighting fires in the town for nearly 30 years, Mr Hyatt was also a talented cricketer and worked as a butcher's boy in his teenage years.

He was devoted to his wife, Helen, who he was married to for 67 years.

His son, and many of his grandsons followed in his footsteps to go on fighting fires in West Oxfordshire.

Ronald Hyatt was born in Holly Lane, Willesden, London, on January 15, 1927 to parents Thomas and Elizabeth Charlotte.

He was the youngest of seven children, with siblings Thomas, Robert, Jessie, William, Violet, who have all passed away, and Albert, who is 91.

As a boy, he would often come to Witney to visit his aunt and when the Second World War broke out his parents sent him to the town as they were worried for his safety.

During bomb raids in London he would often disappear and be found by his parents or siblings trying to fight fires or crawl through collapsed buildings to find survivors.

On moving to Witney, the young Mr Hyatt found work as a butcher's boy alongside another familiar Witney face, Ron Hickman, who also died earlier this month.

Having lied about his age he also became a telegraph boy, riding a bike to villages, often delivering telegrams from the front line.

He also joined the Witney Boys Brigade.

At 16, he joined the National Fire Service and then, just before his 18th birthday, he signed up for the Royal Norfolk Regiment.

On his Army basic training, his physical attributes stood out and he was selected to attend a course in Aldershot to become a physical training instructor.

On his return to barracks, he found the camp deserted - the battalion had been sent to the frontline and many of his friends did not return.

Mr Hyatt often said that the Boys Brigade probably saved his life.

While on leave in Witney, Mr Hyatt asked who he thought was a cinema attendant to show him to his seat.

The woman, Helen Allen had to explain she was actually a nurse. The pair started writing to each other and were married at St Mary's Church in Witney in 1950.

They had two children together, Denise in 1951 and 19 months later Ronald Junior, known as Rod.

Mr Hyatt found work in a butcher's shop but was a talented cricketer, something which resulted in him being offered work at both of the towns mills so that he could be on their team.

He chose Smiths on Bridge Street and as well as working long shifts, also headed up the fire prevention team.

He then joined Witney Fire Station and was dedicated to his role. His son Rod would often follow the fire engine to calls and eventually joined the fire service where they both remained on call 24/7 until 1976.

Mr Hyatt died on Sunday, March 13 after suffering from prostate cancer.

He is survived by his wife, his children, his grandchildren Nikki, Daniel, Arron, Gavin, Marc, and 11 great-grandchildren.

His funeral was held on Monday [March 21] at St Mary's Church in Witney, and his hearse was led through the town centre by two fire engines.