Hero firefighter died of brain tumour on beloved canal boat

Firefighter commended for bravery in the Kings Cross Underground blaze died on his boat moored on Regent’s Canal.

A firefighter who was commended for bravery in the Kings Cross blaze and who helped survivors of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, died on his canal boat from a brain tumour, an inquest has heard.

Gregory Piggot, 48, was found on the boat by a neighbour in August and was later pronounced dead.

As a young firefighter he had fought the fierce Kings Cross Underground fire in 1987, which raged for seven hours and killed 31 people.

Mr Piggot had been a theatre producer for more than a decade at the time of his death.

Prior to that he had worked as a teacher at Fitzjohn’s School in Hampstead, and as a motorbike courier and a photographer.

In 2007 he rode across America on a motorbike to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, before returning to London to fulfil his dream of living on a canal boat.

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His beloved vessel “Canis” was moored on Regent’s Canal in Lisson Grove, Marlyebone, where he was well-known and well-liked.

He was found on the boat on August 21 and despite resuscitation attempts, died just after 9pm, an inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court heard on Friday.

Coroner William Dolman found his death was caused by a seizure related to a brain tumour, which had been diagnosed in March last year and for which Mr Piggot was receiving treatment.

Dr Dolman said: “Anyone who has a propensity to have a seizure or epileptic attack may die suddenly because seizures can cause abnormal rhythms to the heart.

“From time to time the attacks break through because the medication is not a perfect armour preventing all attacks.”

He recorded the cause of death as a brain tumour due to natural causes.

He added that Mr Piggot had lived life to the full and been spared the indignity and suffering of a long and drawn-out death.

His sister, Mandy Payne, paid tribute to her brother after the inquest.

She said: “Greg was so loved by so many people.

“With his big smile, his red beard, his stories and his great big hugs, he made everyone he met feel special. We’ll miss him so much.”