New Year Honours -the people and the work recognised

Each year the New Year’s Honour list recognises the work of individuals who have made achievements in public life and committed themselves to serving and helping across the United Kingdom.

Once again in 2017 some of those recognised for their work were from UK fire and rescue services. A little more detail is in this blog about those that received awards and their work.

Awarded the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Dr Brian Ward, Head, National Resilience Assurance Team. Brian’s award was for services to the Fire and Rescue Service and National Resilience. He recently retired from West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS).

Dr Ward began his career with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) 25 years ago, before moving on to an appointment as Regional Emergency Planning Manager, being seconded into National Resilience. His role has involved planning the response for national disasters and major incidents.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Simon Pilling, said:

“Brian has been an outstanding officer both during his time as Chief Emergency Planning Officer in West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service as well as becoming the National Resilience Officer heading national teams engaged in the provision of specialist emergency response capabilities, including urban search and rescue for collapsed structures and high volume pumping for flooding events. Brian attended the major explosion and fire at Buncefield, Hertfordshire in 2005 to coordinate water supplies feeding the massive foam attack necessary to extinguish the conflagration.

Brian’s commitment to national resilience and emergency response has been exemplary and I’m delighted to see him rewarded for his dedication to public safety. I wish him well in his retirement.”
Awarded the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Robin Iffla, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Board Member. For services to equality & community cohesion in Scotland. Robin was appointed  lead trainer for Central Scotland Police in 2001 and was also seconded to various authorities and partner agencies. Robin now advises the public sector throughout Scotland and the UK on Diversity Awareness through his own company as well as being on SFRS board.

Donna Finch, Community Development and Safeguarding Manager, Essex Fire and Rescue Service received the award for services to Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults in the community. Donna has been with the Service since 2004. In her role, she manages the Service’s Firebreak programmes, the school’s education programme, Essex Fire Cadets, the juvenile fire-setter scheme, the Duke of Edinburgh national licence for the Chief Fire Officer Association (CFOA) and is Safeguarding Manager for Children and Adults. One of the most successful programmes has been the work with children with Down’s Syndrome in partnership with charity Downs Syndrome Extra 21. Earlier this year, that work was recognised with ECFRS being awarded a World Down Syndrome Award from Down Syndrome International. This Firebreak programme is now delivered in Australia and America.

Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)

Peter Clarke, London Fire Brigade. For services to the community in Croydon through the Crossfire Team. Peter’s award recognises his work creating “Crossfire”, a multi agency community engagement project designed to reduce hoax calling, deliberate fires and anti-social behaviour (ASB), through education and direct partnership working. Set up 13 years ago, predominantly to tackle the high number of hoax calls and non-accidental fires in the borough of Croydon, the project is currently working in partnership with around 25 agencies and is being rolled out into other London boroughs.

Peter served as a firefighter for 30 years at New Addington fire station, he retired but now works for the Brigade’s Education team on the “Crossfire” project.  Peter has raised over £500,000 in funding since the project’s inception, in order to sustain the project financially.

Peter from Croydon, said: “I’m completely shocked, it’s very humbling to receive this award.  It’s a feather in the cap for the project as a whole and everybody who has been involved with it.  I feel very proud. The project started because fire engines kept getting attacked and something needed to be done.  It’s really nice to be publicly acknowledged for what I’ve achieved.”
Simon Jakeman Firefighter, London Fire Brigade. For services to Sustainability and Energy Efficiency in the London Fire Brigade. Over the past year Simon has been encouraging all 412 watches in the Brigade, to embrace environmentally-friendly policies in the workplace. He joined Surrey Fire and Rescue service in 1995 and transferred to the London Fire Brigade in 2007 and has served at Surbiton fire station for eight years.

Simon from Chessington, said: “I am totally amazed. In fact, lost for words and feel really honoured to be recognised for my green work in the New Year’s Honours List. I’m just doing my bit.  To think this all started with one tomato plant in a fire bucket on a fire station roof!”

Prithipal Singh Kang. For services to Fire and Rescue – Fire Awareness and Community Cohesion in North Kent. Prithipal joined Kent Fire & Rescue Service in 1985 as a Community Liaison Officer – the first person appointed to this post in the country. Initially his role focussed on fire safety but he also worked to promote recruitment amongst ethnic minority groups and women to the fire service in Kent. He mainly achieved this by visiting and building relationships with places of worship and businesses.

Prithipal said of his award “I would like to say thanks to the KFRS personnel for their encouragement and support over so many years.  I would also like to say thanks to the people of Kent and of course my family.”
Awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal for distinguished service (QFSM)

This award is for members of fire services for the exhibition of conspicuous devotion to duty. Some of the fire service personnel awarded this in 2017 New Year’s Honours were 

Alex Bennett, lately, Chief Fire Officer (Retired July 2016) Northumberland Fire & Rescue Service spent 32 years in the fire service. He began his career at Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service in the 1980’s  where he spent 18 years. He moved  to Northumberland in 2002, serving a number of roles before becoming Chief Fire Officer in January 2012. Northumberland County Council chief executive Steven Mason said: “Alex led the fire service through challenging times, and this has now been properly rewarded.

“We would like congratulate him on his Queen’s Fire Service medal and thank him for all of his hard work in the county.  There is no-one who is more deserving of this medal.”

Trevor McIlwaine, Group Manager, Leicestershire Fire & Rescue Service began his career as a firefighter at West Midlands Fire Service, joining Leicestershire in 1998 as a Station Manager. He became a group Manager in 2008 with responsibility for both community safety activity technical fire safety across Leicestershire and Rutland.

Jason Thelwell, Chief Fire Officer and Chief Executive, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service since early 2015 joined Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service as Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2010 after 17 years with Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service.

Jason Thelwell 

Jason said: “It is truly a great honour to receive this recognition, but my congratulations must go to our staff. I am immensely proud to work with some of the most talented and hard-working public servants in the country, who work tirelessly in Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes to save lives every day. They all contribute to making this one of the safest places in England, and I want to thank them publicly for what they do. This award is dedicated to them all.”
Christopher Davies, Chief Fire Officer, Mid & West Wales Fire & Rescue Service. Chris joined South Glamorgan Fire Service in 1984 and after serving as a firefighter and an officer he secured a secondment to the Fire Service College in 1996 to spend three years as Assistant Divisional Officer in the Command and Management Faculty. A further secondment later followed as part of the Governments New Dimension project which gave him responsibility for the implementation of the National Resilience programme for Wales.

He also undertook the roles of Deputy Divisional Commander and Head of Community Safety, before he joined Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service in 2008 as Corporate Head of Community Risk Reduction. He was promoted to the role of Assistant Chief Fire Officer in 2011. He was appointed Chief Fire Officer for Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service in 2014.

Christopher Davies

Chris said of receiving his award “I have served 32 years in the Fire and Rescue Service and enjoyed every minute of my time, to be recognised in this way is truly humbling and I would like to thank everyone who has worked with me during my career.”
Ian Bell, Watch Manager, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. Ian joined the fire service in 1989, and has served in a number of fire stations across Glasgow and the West of Scotland. He has risen through the ranks and held supervisory management positions and taken command of many significant operational incidents.

In addition to his day job, Ian has invested a huge amount of his personal time in two very worthy organisations – the SFRS Burns Club and SFRS Pipe Band.

The SFRS Burns Club aims to raise the profile of Scotland’s national poet by raising funds for a variety of charitable causes. In the years that Ian has operated as event organiser, the supper has raised in excess of £20,000 for charity.

Ian also dedicates time to the SFRS Pipe Band and has developed a youth band.  He has led the development of the band for a number of years and has invested a significant amount of his own personal time in ensuring that the youth band provides young, aspiring musicians with an opportunity to develop their musical talents in a safe and supportive environment.


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