A local hero who spent nearly 30 years ‘putting his life on the line for the community’ was unable to have his final wish fulfilled.

Bill Hopkinson, who served 27 years as a retained fireman with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, being based at Bicester Fire Station, was cremated last Wednesday (July 20) at North Oxford Crematorium.

The hearse, decorated with flowers and a firefighter’s helmet, arrived at George Street, Bill’s family home where his wife Barbara still lives.

From there the cortege was joined by a fire engine and proceeded to Highfield Social Club where the family watched firefighters form a guard of honour and solute Mr Hopkinson.

The procession went on from there to the crematorium, where around 50 people were in attendance.

Mr Hopkinson’s daughter, Lorraine Hopkinson, said: “He’d have been shocked this was all happening for him.

“But as I said in my eulogy, he was 87 when he passed, he had a fantastic life, and he was well-loved and well-known in Bicester.

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“He did an awful lot in his lifetime; he had a lot to be thankful for. He was a fantastic person, and very sociable.”

Mr Hopkinson has featured in the Bicester Advertiser before, once when he received a long-service award after 20 years with the fire service, and again at 27 years.

Mrs Hopkinson said: “He was an incredible man. I remember watching him carry a lady down a ladder after rescuing her from a burning house when I was young.

“On one occasion he came home crying because he was unable to get to a fire quickly enough to save a young girl who was hiding under her bed.”

Mr Hopkinson had asked his daughter to make arrangements for his funeral, telling her that all he wanted was to be cremated and his ashes interred in a specific plot in Bicester.

However, due to a lack of burial space, this has not been possible.

Mrs Hopkinson said: “It’s terrible that people can’t have their ashes interred in their own community.

“It’s really upsetting because I want to honour my dad’s last wishes.

“He served the community; he’s been part of Bicester since he was a young man. I would be devastated if I didn’t manage to do this for him.”

Personal Funeral Advisor Judy Young said: “I knew there wouldn’t be any space for Bill’s ashes, so I told Lorraine.

“She has been speaking with the town council about it, trying to find a solution.

“I went for a walk around the cemetery last week and as far as I’m concerned there are spaces available.

“I just question whether Bicester Town Council are not considering what they already have.”

Councillor Donna Ford, Chairman of Policy at Bicester Town Council said: "We are aware of and have sympathy for the concerns raised by the relative. There is currently a full cemetery review being undertaken and an ongoing project for a new cemetery.

"We will keep the relative updated of the outcomes and options available to them following completion of the review.

"We have a site of 10 acres in the local plan and the northwest master plan.

"We are ready to put in the planning application once we are informed that the new developers plans have been agreed."


Read more from this author

This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Matthew.norman@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @OxMailMattN1

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