These were the very first ‘Excellence Awards’ held by HWFRS, and thanks to generous sponsorship by the company telent Technology Services Ltd, the Service was able to invite shortlisted nominees for each of the nine categories along to the Great Hall at Eastnor Castle to enjoy a drinks reception and evening meal before a formal presentation of award nominations, and the announcement of the winners.
Chief Fire Officer Mark Yates from HWFRS explained: “We have some truly remarkable people working for or in partnership with Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, and the Excellence Awards have been devised to celebrate their outstanding efforts and amazing achievements, some of which have continued over a period of many years. We wanted to create a night to remember, an experience to inspire others in the organisation, and I’m sure this first Excellence Awards evening will have done just that.”
He confirmed that there were nine separate Excellence Awards presented during the evening.
The first award was presented to Watch Commander Bob Morris from Redditch Fire Station for Community Excellence. This award was presented by Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service.
Bob has been involved in community events in Redditch for over 30 years. He is the first to get behind many new ventures to promote community fire safety and he is a key organiser for many Redditch-based community events, including the annual bonfire and station open days. The award recognises the time, dedication and effort he has put into these initiatives and the positive impact this has had within the local community.
Station Commander Martin Lown, based at HWFRS’s Training Centre in Droitwich, was then presented with an Excellence Award for being The Fire Fighters Charity Fundraiser of the Year. His award was presented by John Parry, Chief Executive of The Fire Fighters Charity.
Martin has been an active supporter of The Fire Fighters Charity (see note below) for some years and is always looking for new challenges to help raise money and the awareness of the charity. In January 2011, he climbed Kilimanjaro wearing fire kit and breathing apparatus, raising in excess of £5,000 and he has just returned from an equally daunting Everest Base Camp climb, again completed in full fire kit. This latest challenge has already raised over £3,800 for the charity.
The next two awards were presented by CFO Mark Yates.
The Excellence Award for Support Staff was presented to Sonja Sinclair-Elechi, who works in the HR department at Service Headquarters in Worcester.
Sonja is a key member of the Service’s Critical Incident Support Team (CIST), offering support to those affected by incidents involving loss of life, serious trauma, injury to children etc, no matter what time of day she is called to help. She is also the Unison representative for HWFRS and involved in MILE (Mediation Intermediary Listening Ear). Sonja always has everyone’s welfare and happiness at heart and goes out of her way to assist, whatever the issue or concern being faced.
The Excellence Award for Operational Staff was presented to Firefighter Andrew Davies from Malvern.
Andrew (known on station as Andy) is a long serving firefighter who has designed and developed a number of interactive software packages used to assist with Command Support at large scale incidents. These are widely used and highly regarded, and have undoubtedly saved the Service the need to purchase costly bespoke software.
The next award of the evening was for Partnership Excellence and this was presented to Dr John Hall by Chief Constable David Shaw from West Mercia Police.
Dr Hall has been involved with HWFRS for over 30 years. He was a regular visitor to Bromsgrove Fire Station in the 1980s where he taught pre-hospital care, and over the last four years, he has acted as medical advisor to the Service, driving forward the clinical skills and capabilities of firefighters across the two counties. He is Chairman of Mercia Accident Rescue Service (MARS) and is a member of BASICS, assisting the emergency services with patient care at the scene of road traffic collisions.
The next award was presented by CFO Yates to the company 2017 Ltd as the RDS (Retained Duty System) Employer of the Year.
2017 Ltd is a printing company based in Hereford and has provided excellent support to the Service, allowing its employees the flexibility they need to be part of the retained duty system at Hereford Fire Station. As the company has a relatively small staff base, this has a significant impact on their business at times. The company has also supported the Service and The Fire Fighters Charity by providing printed banners and T-shirts.
The Excellence Award for Leadership was then presented to Watch Commander John Chance from Ewyas Harold. This award was presented by Peter Holland CBE, the UK’s Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser.
John joined HWFRS as a substantive Junior Officer at Ewyas Harold in 1976 and is as committed to the Service today as he has always been. He maintains an impressive 24/7 personal availability on the Retained Duty System for all but two weeks a year, and through his commitment, Ewyas Harold has one of the best availability records of all the retained stations. John maintains an iron grip on standards, and he is recognised for these high standards by both his peers and officers across the service. His approach to leadership places the highest demands on himself before others and he has done this consistently over decades. Those who attend emergency incidents with him are glad of the calm authority and wealth of experience he brings. He is always keen to take on a new challenge, for instance entering his crew in the UKRO (United Kingdom Rescue Organisation) extrication challenges to ensure his station remains at the cutting edge of modern rescue techniques.
The Excellence Award for Sporting Achievement was then presented to Firefighter Hannah Densley, based at Hereford Fire Station. This award was presented by Jake Abbott from Worcester Warriors.
Hannah has an impressive sporting record with HWFRS. She finished first in her category in the UK Fire Service mountain bike championships in 2011, and then represented the UK Fire Service at the World Mountain Bike championships in the Czech Republic in 2012, finishing in 5th place. She also ran the 2012 London Marathon in full fire kit and breathing apparatus, raising £1,600 for The Fire Fighters Charity at the same time.
The final award of the evening was the Excellence Award for Outstanding Contribution to HWFRS, and this was presented to Watch Commander John Chance from Ewyas Harold
by Jason Spring, Sales Director at Telent, and CFO Mark Yates.
One extra award was also presented during the evening. HWFRS has been selected as the winner of the Gold Award in the national FireFit Challenge (see note below), and this award was formally presented by Chief Fire Officer Andy Fry from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, former Chair of the Fire Service Sports and Athletics Association (FSSAA), to Station Commander Phil Griffiths from HWFRS, who co-ordinated the FireFit Challenge across Herefordshire and Worcestershire.
CFO Yates congratulated the winners, the runners-up and all those who were nominated, saying: “Everyone who works at HWFRS had the opportunity to nominate a colleague, or a partner linked to the Service, and we were delighted to receive more than 80 nominations. I would like to place on record my congratulations to all those who were nominated – they all deserve the recognition that this brought them. I would also like to congratulate all those who were shortlisted, and of course, the winners who were each presented with their own Excellence Award to mark their outstanding achievement.”
He added: “I hope that this inaugural Excellence Awards evening will be the first of many and that it will inspire others to strive for similar high achievements, whether operationally, in leadership, with partners in the community, or through their chosen sport. There is an ethos of hard work and high attainment within the Service and I am proud to be part of this and to celebrate it.”
He thanked all those involved in the organisation of the Excellence Awards evening, with special thanks to the company, Telent, who sponsored the entire evening, and to staff at Eastnor Castle for their magnificent support of the event. He also passed on his thanks to all those who presented awards and all those who attended the evening.