IT was seeing the image of a firefighter running up the stairs of one of the stricken towers at the World Trade Centre in New York as people were desperately attempting to get out that prompted Emma Hughes to pick up the phone and ring her dad, a firefighter in Bolton.
She recalls: “He was on duty at the time and I just wanted to hear his voice.
“That firefighter had this determined look on his face.
I could see the dedication in his eyes and he was so courageous.
“He was running upstairs while everyone else was running downstairs.
“That firefighter was doing his duty trying to save people.”
Miss Hughes, now aged 38, added: “Every time a firefighter goes into a building which others are trying to escape they are putting themselves at risk.
“On that day I just wanted to talk to him and ask if he was all right, and he told me that of course he was.”
This September, on the 10th anniversary of the Twin Towers tragedy, Miss Hughes will remember her father, Graham, a fallen firefighter.
For this year the anniversary of the attacks coincides with the fire brigade’s annual National Service of Remembrance when the country’s fallen firefighters are remembered — giving the service in Victoria Square, Bolton, on Sunday an added poignancy.
Firefighter Mr Hughes died at the age of 53 after tackling a blaze started by an arsonist. He suffered a heart attack after helping put out a grass fire at Seven Acres Country Park, Breightmet, in March 2003.
He died three days later in hospital.
Mr Hughes’ name was inscribed on London’s National Firefighters Memorial last year. Then, in July of this year, he was commemorated with a plaque at Bolton North fire station, where he had been based since 1988. He had joined the service in 1975.
The memorial is also in tribute to Jack Liptrott, also based at Bolton North, who was killed on duty in 1968.
He entered a mine in Morris Green to rescue children who had become trapped there, but Mr Liptrott was overcome by fumes and could not be resuscitated.
Miss Hughes, who lives in Bolton, recalled: “I remember that the most comforting sound was hearing the pump return to the station because you knew that they were back safe from the job they had been to.
“My father loved doing the job, and it was like having an extended family. They were so supportive when my father passed away. I saw them on the day and their faces looked haunted because they had lost one of their own.
“They still talk about him today and they still keep in touch with the family.”
Miss Hughes, who holds regular events to raise money for The Fire Fighter’s Charity, added: “I’m so proud and honoured to have a link with the fire service.”
Miss Hughes has been invited to the fire brigade’s National Service of Remembrance in London, which she said was an honour but would instead be attending the Bolton ceremony.
“On the anniversary, I want people to remember what the good people do every day. We need the firefighters, they are heroes every day. This recognises and lets them know how special they are.
“I am absolutely honoured to have been asked to take part in the wreath-laying ceremony.
“I have elected to attend the Bolton service because my dad’s colleagues will be there and it will be more personal, though it is an honour to have been invited to the National Service of Remembrance. It will be a day to remember all the firefighters.”