In our lives we are sometimes blessed to meet some extraordinary and truely inspirational people who really touch our lives. I am fortunate to say that not only did I meet one such person but also that I was counted amongst his friends.

Last Monday Wayne Johnston passed away peacefully in his sleep with his mother Shirley by his bedside in the Pallative Care Unit of the Heidelburg Hospital in Victoria, Australia. Shirley said he was in little pain at the end and even had a smile on his face.

For those people who did not know Wayne personally, he was without doubt the biggest fire-nut and buff (he wouldn't mind me calling him those) that I had ever met! Wayne was unfortunately born with Spina Bifida which saw him in a wheelchair for most of his 33 years. He grew up with a passion for the emergency services, in particular, firefighting, and attended as many functions, displays and rallies as possible to be near firefighters and their equipment, whilst also trolling the net for current news, information, forums and techniques. He was a member of many international firefighting forums (particularly this one!) and email lists and was able to pass on relevant and interesting information from his research and also his numerous, and very extensive, contacts from not only within fire services in Australia but also from around the world. He was also a passionate supporter of International Firefighters' Day (www.iffd.net) and frequently promoted it.

Wayne was not only a fire-buff but he was also a very good friend and he was always in communication with his friends from all over the world. It is to his credit that he managed to bring fireys together from all around Victoria (and even some International fireys) and work with us to plan his own a funeral with strong a fire theme! Wayne's service next Wednesday will be truely a celebration of his life, friendship and passion.

The IFFD ribbon (a piece of red and a piece of blue ribbon pinned together representing the elements we work with - fire and water) is worn in memory of lost firefighters and as a mark of thanks for their commitment and dedication. Wayne may not have been able to physically be a firefighter but he had a firefighter's spirit, passion and compassion which made him a truely wonderful human being who will be sorely missed by not only his family and friends but also his firefighter friends from all over the world who he touched with friendship through the internet. I am wearing the IFFD ribbon in his memory and honour and I encourage you to do so also.