THE father of heroic Poole firefighter Jim Shears is urging people to turn out in force for his son’s funeral on Friday.

Ed Shears, 62, said he wanted to give Jim the biggest send-off possible at St George’s church in Darby’s Lane, Oakdale.

Father-of-two Jim, from Oakdale, was one of two Hampshire firefighters to die while battling a tower block blaze in Southampton earlier this month.

Mr Shears said everyone would be welcome at the funeral, whether they knew Jim or not, and that he hoped hundreds would attend.

“We want the church to be packed out,” he added.

“He had lots of school friends, university friends, people he knew through judo and from when he worked as a postman.

“We would love to give him the biggest send-off we can.”

To accommodate the expected crowds, there will be a video screen relaying the service to the neighbouring church hall.

There will also be audio speakers outside the church broadcasting the service to the public.

A field next to the church will be available for parking.

The funeral cortege will pass through Poole on Friday morning, with supporters again encouraged to line the streets to pay their respects.

It will leave Jim’s family home in Oakdale just after 10am before passing Poole fire station, where a salute of honour will take place.

The procession will then pass down Dorset Way and along Johnston Road before arriving at the church for 10.35am.

Anyone wishing to see the arrival of the cortege is asked to arrive at St George’s before 10.30am.

Mr Shears, his wife Marilyn and Jim’s wife Carla all attended the funeral of Alan Bannon in Southampton yesterday (see link below), the second firefighter killed in the tragedy at Shirley Towers on April 6.

A special memorial service will be held for both men at Winchester Cathedral in July.