THE family of a Whitefield firefighter watched as a memorial to firefighters was unveiled in Bury this afternoon.

Sue and Wilf Veevers, the mother and step-father, of Stephen Hunt who died in 2013, watched as Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham revealed the statue to commemorate firefighters who lost their lives in the course of their jobs.

Mrs Veevers was pleased with the Greater Manchester memorial, a statue by London-artist, Douglas Jennings, which shows a firefighter at the end of a hard day's work.

She said: "It's lovely. The memorial in London is firefighters with a hose but this one shows a man who is really tired and sat down, it's really good."

Before the unveiling, Mr and Mrs Veevers were presented with a medal of honour for Mr Hunt who died, aged 38, after fighting a fire, started by two teenagers at Paul’s Hair World in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

Mr Hunt, who grew up in Whitefield and lived in Radcliffe, is one of 33 firefighters whose families have been presented with a medal of honour by the Firefighters Memorial Trust.

Since their son died in 2013, Mr and Mrs Veevers have attended many memorials to their son and other fallen firefighters and have become close to those in the fire service.

Mrs Veevers, who lives in Bankhouse Road, Brandlesholme, said: "They have really looked after us and we have got attached to certain ones and become friends with a couple of them.

"Especially with his crew. We still go on his birthday. On the anniversary people go and take flowers but I go later on his birthday and take cake for the crew. We take flowers at Christmas.

The daughter of firefighter Graham Hughes, who worked at Bolton North fire station, was also awarded a medal today.

Her father died in 2003 after tackling a large grass fire at Seven Acres Country Park in Breightmet, Bolton.

Mr Burnham gave a short speech to the assembled firefighters, families and dignitaries, including Bury Mayor Cllr Dorothy Gunther.

He said: "I'm sure there's not a day that goes by that the firefighters don't think about their colleagues Stephen and Graham.

"We think about the service they give when we see our emergency services heading into danger when others are fleeing."

He thanked all of Greater Manchester's firefighters for their service and added: "It feels it is in the right place in our training and safety centre."