It has been 27 years since youngster Terry Robson was carried in the arms of a Firefighter to an awaiting ambulance following a tragic Bradford flat fire which claimed the life of his mother in the summer of 1987.
The moment was captured on camera and became an iconic firefighting image that travelled the world.
Terry was only a two-year-old at the time of the blaze in Allerton, which also left himself and his elder brother three-year-old Mark, badly burned.
In an emotional reunion Terry and Mark recently came face-to-face with retired Firefighter Paul Mangeolles after spotting their pictures in the new Images of Fire book, which features a collection of brigade photographs dating back 40 years.
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) arranged the meeting after Terry got in touch.
Terry, now 28-years-old, said: “It means a lot to meet Paul, words can’t describe. I have been wanting to meet him for years. The Firefighters saved my life on that day, 100 per cent.”
Following the fire, Terry spent over 18 months in hospital being treated for burns to his head and hands, the scars for which he still bears today. Brother Mark, of Whetley Hill, Bradford, although not as badly burned, also spent time in hospital.
At the gathering was also recently retired brigade photographer Brian Saville, who took the picture, and had followed-up on the youngsters’ welfare at the time by donating to an appeal fund.
Paul said: “Every time I look at the picture it brings back memories of that day. I have the picture hanging up in my hallway. I wondered what happened to the lads.
“You go home with a heavy heart and go back to your station and talk about it and don’t know what’s happened afterwards because the ambulance has taken them away.
“To see Terry and Mark is a wonderful feeling, to know that they have grown up to be men and are happy and have had a good life.”
Paul recalled Fairweather Green Fire Station crews were first on the scene and started fighting the fire.
He was part of a crew from a second engine sent from Bradford Fire Station. When he arrived Terry and Mark were already out of the house.
Paul, who retired in 2001 and lives in Halifax, said: “The two children were lying on a blanket and I went over and saw one child and I saw the ambulance come in. I picked the child up and took him to the ambulance and that’s when the photo got taken.
“The fire must have started and the mother obviously must have seen the fire and went to rescue her own children. She went onto a balcony and because it was the second floor she dropped the children down, I believe to some neighbours.
“My recollection is that their mother then, because the smoke was so intense, got over the balcony railings and dropped down and she sadly died.”
Neither brothers remember the day itself, but Terry does have vivid memories of his long road to recovery at Pinderfields Hospital, in Wakefield. He lost a finger as a result of his injuries and had over 300 stitches and numerous operations to his badly burned left hand.
Terry, of Greengates, Bradford, said: “I had bandages on my hand until I was about five on and off.
“My hand was stuck to my side for a while. I could not pick things up. I started picking things up when I was six or seven. I liked to ride a bike but I could just rest my hands on it.
“But it has not held me back in life. I have done more things in my time than any other people.
“My dad was there to make sure we had everything that we could. My burns have never bothered me. I was so young I did not know any different.”
Mark, who is dad of one and is engaged to Karen Sutcliffe, added: “It means the world to us to see Paul again.
“We hope our story brings home the importance of fire safety in the home.”
Terry is now engaged to Rachel Dunn and is dad of Morgan Robson, five, and Angel Robson, nine.
Terry added: “The Firefighters are heroes at the end of the day. They are amazing guys and for them to risk their lives to save others, to my knowledge, they are the best people you could meet. My story shows the reality of the injuries fire can cause and I hope it helps drive home the message that people need to do all they can to prevent fires in the home.”
The Images of Fire book was released to celebrate 40 years since the seven county borough and city brigades amalgamated to form West Yorkshire Fire Service. It is available to buy in shops for £14.99 or can be ordered online at www.firebookshop.co.uk
The picture shows, left to right, former brigade photographer Brian Saville, Terry Robson, Mark Robson and retired Firefighter Paul Mangeolles.