The winners for the Spirit of Fire Awards 2014 have been announced at a star-studded ceremony hosted by The Fire Fighters Charity and presented by BBC newsreader Nicholas Owen.
Hosted by The Fire Fighters Charity, the Spirit of Fire Awards are supported by headline sponsor Infographics UK Ltd., the developer of FireWatch and FloSuite software for the fire and rescue service. The awards honour members of the fire community and members of the public by recognising acts of bravery and dedication to The Fire Fighters Charity.
After meeting VIPs including The Right Honourable Eric Pickles MP, Secretary of State for communities and local government, at a special Downing Street reception, nominees made their way to the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, where they received their awards during a prestigious ceremony presented by newsreader Nicholas Owen.
Commenting on the achievements recognised at The Spirit of Fire 2014, Eric Pickles MP said: “The Spirit of Fire awards proudly showcase the very best of our fire and rescue service, as well as showing our admiration for those who have battled in the face of adversity, or demonstrated dedication to The Fire Fighters Charity. It was a true honour to meet and recognise the Charity’s supporters and beneficiaries at the Spirit of Fire Downing Street reception today.”
A stellar line-up of presenters at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London, included Larry Lamb, John Partridge, Jacqui Hames, John Conteh, Bhasker Patel, Rudolph Walker, Lorraine Chase, Fiona Wade, Liam Fox, Nicole Barber-Lane, Daniel Roche and Niamh McGrady.
The winners are ten individuals and groups who proved themselves exceptionally brave and dedicated amongst strong competition throughout the following categories:
Fire Service of the Year
WINNER: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
This service was the top FRS in the year ending 31 March 2013. A magnificent total of £753,727 was raised, £50,195 above target. To achieve this, a large number of supporters and volunteers organised and participated in a diverse range of events including fundraising dinners and recycling. This outstanding performance was achieved during a period of considerable change, when the SFRS was reforming into a single service. The Scotland region has also restructured its volunteer base to ensure that it continues to generate substantial income to meet the Charity’s needs.
Fire Fighter of the Year
WINNER: Paul Rich, London Fire Brigade
On Christmas Day 2012, Southall Red Watch received a call to a fire in a house in Southall. En route, Brigade Control contacted the appliances, stating that there were a number of children involved. Encountering considerable confusion and difficulty, Crew Manager Paul Rich determined that there were six children in an upstairs bedroom and immediately committed a Breathing Apparatus (BA) Team to enter the property to search for them. The BA Team reported difficulty accessing the upstairs of the property, due to items stored on and around the stairs. The arriving watch manager instructed Paul to make his way to the rear of the premises to gain alternative access and locate the casualties. Paul noted that a short extension ladder had been pitched against a rear first floor window. In a rapidly escalating situation, he scaled the ladder to assess the situation and managed to rescue the children. All six children were taken to hospital with severe smoke inhalation, with two transferred straight to intensive care. All six were released over a week later.
Beneficiary of Courage
WINNER: Victoria Marks, Cornwall
40-year-old Victoria, wife of a Retained Fire Fighter, was born with narrow arteries. Fourteen years ago, following severe pain in her legs, she was diagnosed with the rare and debilitating Buerger’s disease, associated with gangrene and amputation. The disease first claimed part and then the whole of one leg. During the Christmas period of 2012 her other leg was amputated and she was told that over time, she may also lose her arms. Throughout her entire ordeal Victoria has been there for others, never wavering from a resilience, dignity, courage, strength of character and determination that is truly inspirational.
Youth of Courage
WINNER: Joshua Hopkins, Ben Hool and Lewis Byng, Carmarthen, aged 15
Three Carmarthen schoolboys rescued a woman from drowning in the River Towy. The QE High School pupils were enjoying a day by the river when the woman, believed to have been under the influence of alcohol, suddenly jumped into the water. During the incident the woman began to struggle and the boys quickly pulled her out. However, she jumped in again at a point along the river known locally in Carmarthen as ‘the 22’. She then lost consciousness and started drifting down river. At this point, emergency services were called but, between them, the boys got to the woman, kept her head above water and pulled her to safety. When on the river bank, the woman, whose lips had gone blue, came round.
Adult Hero Award
WINNER: Alan Chapman, Littleport
Last May, Alan was travelling along Branch Bank near Littleport in Cambridgeshire when he came across the scene of a serious road traffic collision involving a motorcyclist and a VW Golf estate. Tragically, due to the force of this high-speed collision, the motorcyclist was killed outright. The transfer of energy during the impact was so great that the car was overturned onto its roof, severely injuring and trapping the driver. Disregarding the potential risk to himself, Alan climbed inside the car, which was rapidly filling with acrid smoke and flames coming from the air vents, and released the driver from her restraints before dragging her to a place of safety. Alan sustained burns to both arms during the rescue and then noticed that his clothes and shoes were bloodstained and burnt. He received treatment from the fire crew at the scene and has now fully recovered from his injuries.
Team of the Year
WINNER: Oxford to Bonn Challenge Cycle Team, Oxford
In July 2013, a 15-strong team of Oxfordshire fire fighters organised a 463-mile cycle ride over six days from Oxford to Bonn in Germany through four separate countries, raising more than £14,000. All UK participants were actively engaged in organising events such as charity auctions, a 270-person charity ball, numerous collections, as well as visits to schools to promote cycle safety, all of which were carried out voluntarily.
Supporter of the Year
WINNER: Dom Furby, Birkenshaw
Dom heads up the team of charity reps within WYFRS. He constantly promotes the Charity within his brigade in in the wider retired fire community. He never takes his eye off why he is raising money, and is the brain behind the exceptionally popular charity calendar ‘Red Hot Dates’. This year, he built on that success with a female version – Red Hot Sirens! He has promoted numerous national and regional fundraising initiatives in his own way, resulting in WYFRS outstripping the rest of the country in recycling.
Best Newcomer of the Year
WINNER: Claire Boer, Norfolk
Claire is the epitome of a Fire Fighters Charity fundraiser and coordinator. A natural listener, she has transformed the way in which Norfolk has approached fundraising and shown great personal leadership, including developing the service intranet to contain lots of information about the Charity. Her infectious enthusiasm for supporting the Charity has demonstrated itself in so many ways, resulting in increased fundraising and a general feelgood factor about the Charity.
Corporate Supporter of the Year
WINNER: D. Robinson & Recycling Partners
D. Robinson & Recycling Partners has provided a first-class textile recycling scheme on behalf of the Fire Fighters Charity over the past five years that has generated a staggering £1 million for the Charity. They have worked tirelessly to ensure that best practice is maintained in all their contacts with the general public and the fire and rescue services.
Lifetime Achievement Award
WINNER: Graham Bow MBE
Graham supported the Charity for over 30 years, serving in West Midlands Fire Service as an operational officer and later joining us as a Regular Giving Fundraiser in 2006. Despite suffering from a debilitating illness he was always full of enthusiasm and determination. Graham, along with wife Lynn, ran a very successful shop for Charity merchandise and was also one of the very first beneficiaries of our nursing service. In summer 2012 he represented the Charity at the Queen’s Buckingham Palace garden party. Graham passed away suddenly in summer 2013 – he was a wonderful ambassador for the Charity and is sadly missed.
Huge congratulations to all of our winners – for more information, please visit www.spiritoffireawards.co.uk