3:40pm Friday 11th January 2013
A BRAVE fire chief and war hero honoured by the Queen has died aged 90.
Fred Ponsford, Avon fire chief between 1976 and 1984, retired to Magor following a career in which he was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal for his heroic actions when confronted by rioters.
He also received an MBE in 1974 for services to fire-fighting.
Mr Ponsford, who was married to Rose, moved to Monmouthshire to be closer to his daughters Jean Watts, 61 and Linda Tuffs, following his retirement in 1986.
His son-in-law Phil Watts, 62, said he told few people about his heroics during the St Paul’s riots of 1980, when he led his men while being pelted with missiles in the Bristol suburb.
“St Paul’s was in danger of burning down completely and he wasn’t going to have that, so he stood his ground – he was quite a character,” said Mr Watts, who lives in Magor.
“A lot of people didn’t know he was a war hero and fire chief.”
Mr Ponsford was in the Army at the age of 18, first with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and later a glider pilot with the Airborne Division.
Despite the risks at Arnhem and D-Day, he managed to return to the UK safely, married his wife in 1940 and joined the National Fire Service seven years later.
During a distinguished career, he helped fight most of Bristol’s worst post-war fires and on one occasion, he ended up in hospital for smoke inhalation.
He received praise for his quick-thinking actions during the riots.
In his retirement, Mr Ponsford lived in Blenheim Avenue, Magor, before downsizing to Windsor Park when his beloved wife died six years ago.
“He loved it in Magor,” said Mr Watts.
“He had three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren who lived in the area, they had a lot of good times, walking in the park.
“His neighbours were very fond of him too, he was always in the garden.
He was a rugby fan, we went to see Newport Gwent Dragons and Pontypool play.”
Mr Ponsford spent two years in Castleford Care Home, Chepstow and donations can be given to its residents’ account, c/o Tovey Brothers, 9-11 Cardiff Road, Newport NP20 2EH.
His funeral was yesterday, at St Mary’s Church, Magor.
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