Some of the control room team, including crew manager Julie Cole, centre – photo supplied

Shining stars of Norfolk’s Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) have been recognised at an awards night held at Norwich Castle.

The county’s chief fire officer David Ashworth thanked all NFRS staff for doing all they can to make our communities safe and providing an excellent emergency response in the county.

The service’s unsung heroes were presented with awards and certificates in categories including long service and good conduct for 20, 30, 35 and 40 years’ of service, making a difference, commendation and volunteer of the year.

Among those receiving accolades for their dedication to the service were Richard Miles, a crew manager for Great Yarmouth. Richard has clocked up 25 years’ service and is also an active member of Caister Lifeboat Crew.

Steven Polley, from Dereham Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) completed 30 years of service as a firefighter and then joined USAR as an on call technician. Steve and his working dog Hooky provide canine capability to assist in the search for missing persons. He also has a Cadaver search dog called Paolo who is used regularly across the country to
help MOD and police forces search for missing persons.

Watch Manager Simon Hilton has worked in the training and development centre for 15 years and was presented with a Making a Difference Award for his work in developing the service’s breathing apparatus and for supporting staff going through the training process.

One of the six commendation awards was given to the control room team for their exceptional work dealing with flooding calls last June. Led by crew manager Julie Cole, the team processed 936 calls in 24 hours, exceeding the previous record by more than 300. The team called in extra support from members not due on shift and co-ordinated a response for issues including lightning strikes, road traffic crashes and mudslides as well as flooding. They also processed calls from Hertfordshire as their control room was also inundated. Control room staff also ensured that ballot boxes for the EU referendum were delivered on time once the polling stations in flooded areas had closed. Station Manager Duncan Ashworth nominated the control room team and said: “The level of teamwork, resilience and professionalism under truly testing circumstances was exceptional.”

Simon Burch was commended for his efforts in supporting his colleague, firefighter James Thorpe from Kings Lynn, who suffered a spinal injury after a fall abroad last June. Simon supported James’ repatriation to the UK, set up a Just Giving page which has already raised in excess of £13,000, organised a fundraising day with James’ partner Michaela which raised £3,000 and liaised with charities and support groups to ensure James had the best support to start his recovery.

Simon was nominated by Phil Berry who said: “James has led a personal crusade to ensure an injured firefighter and friend has every opportunity to achieve his goals despite a devastating injury. Simon has demonstrated all the historic values of a firefighter but more of an amazing human being and friend.”

Member of the public Mrs Herbert Jones nominated firefighter Alison Graver after witnessing her rescuing two people in dinghys who got into trouble in the sea at Sea Palling last July. Alison was there with her children making sandcastles when she swam in and brought them safely back to shore.

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Chair of Norfolk County Council’s Communities Committee, attended the awards. She said: “It was great to see so many long service awards being given out to dedicated staff who clearly love the job to give so many years of service to the profession. There is so much work done by not only those out in the community but the teams behind the scenes who are pivotal to keeping the service running so smoothly. I am so pleased that their hard work has been recognised.”
The winners were:

Long Service and Good Conduct Medals (20 years’ service):
Dean Baldry (Firefighter, Loddon)
Michael Brown (Watch Manager, Eastern)
Christopher Gould (Crew Manager, Acle)
William Groves (Firefighter, Terrington)
Rigil Kent (Watch Manager, Hunstanton and Crew Manager, King’s Lynn)
Richard Miles (Crew Manager, Great Yarmouth)
Stefan Rider (Watch Manager, JOCC)
Perry Smith (Watch Manager, Whitegates)
Sharon Thorndyke (Control Watch Manager)

30 Year Outstanding Service Certificate:
Stephen Broom (Firefighter, Earlham. Firefighter, North Walsham)
Jeremy Cleall (Watch Manager, Reepham)
Andrew Luke (Crew Manager, Holt)
Glen Roskilly (Crew Manager, Wymondham. Crew Manager USAR)

Norfolk Fire Service Medal:
Peter Aldred (Firefighter, Gorleston)
Dean Howes (Watch Manager, Gorleston)
Steven Woodgate (Hethersett)

40 Year Outstanding Service Certificates:
Gerald Desroches (Crew Manager, Hunstanton)
Steven Polley (USAR, Dereham)

Making a Difference Award:

Simon Hilton (Watch Manager)
Andy Heginbotham and Phil Berry (Retired)

Certificate of Commendation:
Andy Wells and crew from Sheringham
Attleborough Station
Control Team
Simon Burch
Alison Graver
Cadet Leaders from Sheringham, Great Yarmouth, Hunstanton, Wymondham and Diss.

Volunteer of the Year Award:
Pat Richardson
Ken Reynolds