TRIBUTES have been paid to a former chief fire officer of Cambridgeshire who died suddenly before Christmas, aged 65.

Alan Gray, who lived in Sawtry, was the longest serving chief of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service before he retired in 2000. His former colleagues described him as being “instrumental” in the development of the organisation throughout the 1990s, bringing in new ideas and approaches.

“He was particularly passionate about supporting the staff working on the frontline at fire stations and introduced novel approaches to management, some of which were adopted nationally,” said Maurice Moore, area commander at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The father-of-two died on Thursday, December 20. His funeral will take place on at 11am Thursday (January 10) at All Saints Church in Sawtry.

His family has appealed for donations to the Fire Service Benevolent Fund.

“Alan was a well-known national figure and highly respected among chief peer fire officers,” Mr Moore said.

“Although he came to the county from London, he was very much a Cambridgeshire person and really got into the local scene. He brought his vast experience from London to Cambridgeshire and was able to uniquely blend all that is good about busy city life with important values of the local community, and he always felt strongly about supporting the Cambridgeshire community.

“He was very committed to being part of the local community and providing the best service to the people. He was an enthusiastic cricket follower and a dedicated husband, father and grandfather.”

The service had been “extremely saddened” by his death, he added.

Mr Gray is survived by his wife Jenny and daughters Mandie and Yvonne.