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Tributes to firefighter killed in north Cumbria accident

The partner of a firefighter killed in a car crash has paid tribute to her soul mate and best friend.

Russell Long photo
Russell Long and partner Nina

Related: Police name man who died in north Cumbria car crash

Russell Long, who was 37 and from Wigton, died when his blue Audi A4 went off the B5307 road as he travelled between Kirkbride and Moorhouse. The car was found overturned in the River Wampool and is believed to have crashed into a bridge.

Mr Long was pronounced dead at the scene on Wednesday.

His partner Nina Dixon said today: "I loved him so very dearly and I always will, my heart is broken; he played a massive part in our lives, both mine and my daughter Leah’s.

“I am grateful for the time we had together, and will forever wish it could have been longer. The love we shared was special and we were looking forward to a long and happy future together.”

And she added: “Russ was my soul mate and always will be. He was my best friend."

An emotional statement from his parents and brother Allister - who found him after the crash - said he was a devoted and loving son, father, brother and uncle.

"He was loved and respected by so many people here and abroad. Russell and Allister were brought up on their family farm at Watch Hill, Newton Arlosh, where they were never apart.

“Allister was the one who found his brother and was at his side at the end. Side by side as they always were in life.

“The multitude of skills Russell possessed cascaded through to his workplace, sports field and the larger part of the community whom he never refused assistance and support.

"He was caring, dignified and fair, a friend in need to countless and a very special friend to many.

"A giant of a man whose size was only surpassed by his personality, generosity and selflessness, and this is the legacy he has left to all who had the privilege to know him.”

Friends and colleagues today paid tribute to a “gentle giant” killed in a car crash.

Mr Long had worked for local firm Innovia Films since he was 16 and was also a retained firefighter, with more than 15 years’ service.

His employer was keen to pay tribute to him.

A spokesman for Innovia said: “Russell worked at Innovia Films Ltd for 21 years as a mechanical fitter, latterly working on shifts. He worked on the whole site and was one of those rare people who gained respect wherever he worked.

“He has been described as ‘a gentle giant who had a heart of gold’.”

The spokesman added: “He worked as part of close-knit team along with his brother Allister. It is fair to say that those on site today are in complete shock at this very sad news. Our deepest sympathies go to his family.”

Adrian Holme, the fire service station manager at Wigton, had been Mr Long’s manager and was one of the firefighters sent to the scene. Several others who knew Mr Long personally had also attended.

Mr Holme said: “Russell was a larger than life character. He was a big man with a big heart.”

He added that Mr Long had brought much of his technical knowledge from Innovia to his work as a firefighter.

“His skill and experience was renowned,” he said.

Mr Holme also paid tribute to the team at Wigton, who he described as “absolutely devastated” by the news. He said: “Accidents of this kind are challenging at any time but when you are dealing with one of your own it is devastating.”

Cumbria’s chief fire officer Dominic Harrison was also keen to pay tribute.

He said: “Russell was a respected and valued colleague who had been an on-call firefighter with Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service at Wigton since March 1997.

“Over the past 16 years his professionalism, dedication and commitment was shown time and time again at numerous incidents, often alongside his brother Allister who is also an on-call firefighter at Wigton.

“The fire service is a very close-knit unit so I know all of us will share a sense of shock and sadness at the loss of one of our friends and colleagues,” he added.

Both men also sent sympathy to Mr Long’s family.

Mr Long was also a keen rugby player for Wigton RUFC, where he played as a prop.

The club tweeted: “Sad day for the club, thoughts go out to his family. Will be sadly missed.”

Police and ambulance crews attended the scene of the crash with the fire service at around 10am on Wednesday.

Police have appealed for anyone who saw the car on the road between 10pm on Tuesday and 10am Wednesday to call them on 101.

Leave your tributes to Russell Long below...

Have your say

Still can't believe your not here, such a kind amazing person, fond memories I will cherish, will miss you loads xx

Posted by Rachel on 7 December 2013 at 10:36

Gonna miss ya Russ RIPX

Posted by Wuzzel on 6 September 2013 at 19:01

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