‘Unseen heroes’ of the fire service have been thrust into the spotlight at a national awards ceremony.
The actions of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Green Watch, Fire Control, in handling an explosion at a block of shops and flats in Rugby in July of this year, saw them nominated for the Spirit of Fire Awards – Fire Fighter of the Year 2012.
At the weekend Watch Commander Clare Cowley, Crew Commander Amanda Swinden, Firefighter Michelle Rulli and Firefighter Jo Goodman, attended the awards ceremony in London, along with Warwickshire County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Protection Cllr Richard Hobbs and Chief Fire Officer Graeme Smith.
As part of the weekend’s events, Firefighter Michelle Rulli and her husband Michael, also a Warwickshire firefighter, attended a reception at Downing Street, along with the other nominees, hosted by Government Minister Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Chief Fire Officer Graeme Smith said: “The evening was a great success and the ceremony was a very moving and emotional event to be involved with.”
Cllr Hobbs added: “It was mentioned during the evening how Fire Control staff are the ‘unseen heroes’ of the Fire Service who the public rarely get to hear about, which was nice to hear.”
Watch Commander Clare Cowley said: “Although we didn’t win, we all agreed there were no losers, as all the nominees were winners to start with.”
The annual awards, supported by headline sponsor Infographics UK Ltd., the developer of FireWatch and FloSuite software for the fire and rescue service, honour remarkable acts of bravery and acts of outstanding dedication to The Fire Fighters Charity.
Commenting on the many achievements recognised at The Spirit of Fire 2012, Eric Pickles MP said: “These awards are a fantastic opportunity to proudly showcase the very best of our fire and rescue service and also to show our admiration for those who have battled in the face of adversity, or performed a heroic act of bravery and courage. The Fire Fighters Charity helps all members of the fire service community during their times of need – that’s serving and retired fire service personnel – and their selflessly supportive families. It’s an honour to be recognising the Charity’s supporters and beneficiaries at the Spirit of Fire awards.”
The prestigious Fire Fighter of the Year award was won by Nathan Julien of Stoke Newington Fire Station, who sprang into action after witnessing a head-on collision between three cars. Nathan, who had only been a fire fighter for 11 months, pulled a man from a smoke-filled car, just seconds before it burst into flames, before returning to rescue another trapped driver.
The Child Public Hero award was won by 15-year-old Londoners Charlie Ryan, Ali Al-Nabhan and Chyane Bell, who saved two young children – a five-year-old girl and her one-year-old brother – from a house fire in Hatch End, braving the fire to rescue the baby from his cot and looking after the children in a nearby nursery while fire service battled the blaze.
Other winners on the night were:
· Team of the Year – Runcorn Fire Station (White Watch), Cheshire
· Brigade of the Year – West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service
· Supporter of the Year (Individual) – Jenny Adkins, Hereford and Worcester
· Supporter of the Year (Team) – Blazing Saddles, East Sussex
· Beneficiary of Courage – Ally Boyle, Strathclyde
· Adult Public Hero – Carl Creasey and Adam Lessiter, Lincolnshire
· Newcomer of the Year – Mary Maggs, Lincolnshire
· Special Recognition – Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service
Former fire fighter and committed fundraiser Keith Roszell MBE, a Cornish-based Company Member of The Fire Fighters Charity, received this year’s Lifetime Achievement award.
Celebrities who attended the evening’s ceremony included Rudolph Walker, Natalie J. Robb, Bhasker Patel, Tony Hirst, Ian Puleston-Davies, Ken Livingstone, Jacqui Hames, Lorraine Chase, Michelle Heaton, Jamie Rickers, Anna Williamson, Lawrie McMenemy MBE and Kevin Keegan OBE. As well as stars from the stage and screen, a number of the country’s successful Olympic medal-winning athletes joined the celebrations.
Spirit of Fire 2012 was hosted by The Fire Fighters Charity, the UK’s leading provider of services that enhance quality of life for serving and retired fire service personnel and their families. The Charity is available for all members of the fire service community during their time of need, assisting thousands of individuals every year by providing pioneering rehabilitation treatment and support services.
It costs £9million every year to meet the needs of the Charity’s beneficiaries in the fire service family. With no government funding, the Charity relies upon donations from the general public and fire community.
For more information go to www.firefighterscharity.org.uk/spirit