THE mother of a young boy who nearly died after being hit by a bus has backed the Journal's campaign to oppose cuts to Ilfracombe Fire Station.
In May 2011 six-year-old Ben Alston was dragged under a double-decker bus while on holiday in the town with his mother Lynne.
Ben was left in a critical condition after sustaining a ruptured spleen, a fractured skull, a fractured collar bone, a lacerated liver and a bruised kidney.
However, miraculously he made a full recovery – something Lynne puts down to the speedy attendance of Ilfracombe's fire fighters.
Last week the Journal reported that the Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service Authority had approved a 12-week consultation period for proposed cuts across the two counties.
Among these cuts is the proposal that Ilfracombe Fire Station loses its whole-time day crew and is turned into a fully retained station.
The Journal, together with the Fire Brigade Union (FBU), has launched a campaign against these cuts which Lynne supports.
She said: "We are eternally grateful to the fire crew in Ilfracombe.
"They were on the scene so quickly and I believe this made the difference between life and death.
"Ben was trapped under the bus for about 45 minutes and one of the fire fighters even climbed under there with him to speak to him and keep him calm until he was released.
"If they hadn't got to the scene as quickly as they did it could have been a different story.
"They did an absolutely amazing job."
Six months after the incident Ben and his family returned to Ilfracombe to visit the firefighters who had saved his life.
Lynne said: "He loved going back there and meeting the crew.
"They let him sit behind the wheel of a fire engine and also gave him a fire service teddy and a fireman's helmet which he still has now. They are lovely guys and great fire fighters."
Lynne said she was disappointed to hear that Ilfracombe Fire Station could lose the same crew which came to Ben's aid that fateful day.
She said: "Of course we are dead against these plans.
"In a situation like that every second counts and I'm eternally grateful that the firefighters turned up when they did.
"It's because of them that Ben can still go swimming, play football and do all the other things a healthy seven-year-old can do."
FBU Chairman Bob Walker added: "Lynne is absolutely right, a speedy response time can mean the difference between life and death, not only in serious car crashes but also in fires and other accidents too.
"I would urge everyone to help us fight these cuts which will increase danger to the public as well as fire fighters."
You can sign the Save Our Station petition by visiting www.this isnorthdevon.co.uk