THE wife of a former firefighter, left heartbroken when burglars stole her late husband’s service medals, has had them replaced by his colleagues at County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service.

The sentimental medals belonging Ian Heath were stolen from the family home in Seaham.

County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service organised for the medals to be replaced and Chief Fire Officer Stuart Errington presented them to his widow, Linda Heath, and the family at Seaham Fire Station.

Mr Heath, who recently passed away, started his career in 1979 as a firefighter and retired as a sub-officer in 2003.

The passion for the service runs deep in the family, with his brother Chris now retired, son Craig and son-in-law Lee, serving as on call crew managers and grandson Dylan, a fire cadet at Seaham Fire Station.

Chief Fire Officer Stuart Errington said “A fire service career is unlike any other, you really do become part of a big extended family which becomes a way of life.

"We value every member of our fire family, past and present and were absolutely devastated for the Heath family when we found out Ian’s medals had been stolen. We know the new medals will never be able to replace the originals, but hopefully they can provide some comfort to Mrs Heath and the rest of the family”.