Warwickshire firefighters honoured at annual awards ceremony

Members, volunteers and supporters of Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service (WFRS) have been recognised for their hard work, dedication and commitment at the service’s annual awards ceremony.

The awards include a Special Recognition award for Jeff Stevens, who has worked and volunteered for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service for a total of 50 years.

Recipients were honoured at The Royal Pump Rooms, Leamington Spa on Thursday, November 15, with the event celebrating all areas of the service.

Families and friends were invited to attend the ceremony and awards, which included the presentation of Long Service and Good Conduct medals, Community Achievement and Community Support awards, Chief Fire Officer’s Certificates of Commendation and a Special Recognition award.

Andy Hickmott, Chief Fire Officer, said: “Recognising colleagues for the work they do is one of my favourite parts of the job. This is always a wonderful evening and getting the chance to celebrate success with families and loved ones is a great reminder of the amazing people we have working for or supporting Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service.”

Monica Fogarty, joint Managing Director, Warwickshire County Council said: “I would like to congratulate all of our winners. Our firefighters and staff work extremely hard to provide an essential emergency service around the clock, and it is important that we recognise and reward this and those who support them through our annual awards.”

The awards presented were as follows:

Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal – awarded to operational personnel who have completed twenty years’ of outstanding service to their community.  The medals were presented by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Mr Timothy Cox.

  • SC Ian Brooker (Service HQ, Leamington Spa)
  • CC Ben Harrison (Rugby Fire Station)
  • CC Christopher Lowe (Stratford Fire Station)

The Community Achievement Award is awarded to individuals or teams who have gone beyond the normal expectation of their role through the fire safety programme of work. The awards were presented by the High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Mrs Clare Sawdon.

The first recipient was firefighter Richard Cooknell. Richard is based at Rugby Fire Station and has served with Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service for 15 years. Richard led a multi-agency initiative to enhance the Service’s access to the most vulnerable of our society to keep them safe from the risk of fire through the provision of Safe and Well checks. As a result more than600 vulnerable people have been identified to date and have received checks and support.

Rugby Fire Station received a Community Achievement Award as Station of the Year for the Derelict Buildings Initiative.

The initiative involved working with partners to identify derelict buildings and those buildings at risk of arson and vandalism. By working together, the multi-agency approach ensured demolition of vacant properties which were repeatedly being targeted. As a result there has been a significant reduction of fires in derelict buildings, reducing risk to the local community, firefighters and emergency services.

Lisa Hayes, Environmental Health Officer at Rugby Borough Council also received a Community Achievement Award for her role in the project.

The Community Support Award recognises the support offered to the Fire Service by businesses who employ our retained firefighters, or business owners who are also firefighters.

Chairman of Warwickshire County Council, Councillor John Cooke presented the awards.

  • Bronze award: Sainsbury’s, Kenilworth.
  • Bronze award: Warner’s Budgens in Bidford-upon-Avon.
  • Silver award: Kenilworth Architectural and CAD Services Ltd.
  • Outstanding Achievement award: Bomford Turner (Alamo Manufacturing Group).

Chief Fire Officer Commendation Awards were presented to individuals and teams for displalying exemplary devotion to duty. The awards were presented by Chief Fire Officer Andy Hickmott.

The first recipient was Group Commander Neil McElvenny.
Neil received the award for his continued support to families and colleagues of the four  firefighters who tragically lost their lives in a fire in Atherstone-on-Stour.

The next recipient was Firefighter Alan Smith
Alan is based at Stratford Fire Station and is a tactical advisor supporting the specialist high volume pump, which can be deployed nationwide.   Alan received the award for consistently exceeding the requirements of this role.

Crews from Gaydon and Wellesbourne Fire Station were awarded certificates of commendation in recognition of their professionalism and life-saving actions at a serious road traffic collision.

Firefighters Ingrid Barber and Chris Woodward and Crew Commanders Pally Kapoor, Tom Stephenson from Gaydon Fire Station were commended along withFirefighter Ashley Holtom, Watch Commander Andy McKelvie and Crew Commanders Mike Olver and Paul Perry from Wellesbourne Fire Station.

The final Chief Fire Officer commendations are were made jointly with Northamptonshire Fire & Rescue Service and were presented to Watch Commander Amanda Swinden (WFRS) and Watch Manager Becky Leyland (NFRS) for their commitment, dedication and hard work in developing and establishing a joint command and control system.

The commendations were presented by Chief Fire Officer Andy Hickmott and Chief Fire Officer Darren Dovey.

The final award of the evening recognised volunteer Jeff Stevens.

Jeff joined Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service in 1968 and was based at Leamington Fire Station as divisional officer until his retirement in 1998. Jeff received a Special Award for his commitment and dedication in continuing to lead the Service’s Colour Party for a further 20 years.

Jeff was responsible for forming the ‘Colour Party’ in 1991 after the introduction of service flags and standard bearers. He organised attendance and ensured all volunteers had the correct uniform, equipment and facilities to practice their important roles.

Jeff retained his role for the Colour Party after retiring from operational service and although now retiring after a further 20 years of volunteer service, he will still remain involved as the honorary president.

Jeff has also recently retired from voluntary service with the British Red Cross, which works in partnership with the fire service providing Warwickshire with an emergency support services (FESS) vehicle. Volunteers use the bespoke vehicle to attend the scene of emergencies to provide practical and emotional support to people who have suffered damage to their homes following flooding or fire.

For more information on Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service please visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fireandrescue

Community Award – Rugby Fire Station with Lisa Hayes – Environmental Health Officer at Rugby Borough Council

Firefighter – Richard Cooknell

Firefighter – Ian Brooker

Crew Commander – Christopher Lowe

Crew Commander – Ben Harrison