Firefighters and good citizens were recognised at a special awards ceremony held last night at Arundel Castle.
For the first time, West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service combined its Long Service and Good Conduct Medal Ceremony with its Chief Fire Officer Commendation Awards, which mark courage, dedication and selflessness from people across the county.
Long Service and Good Conduct Medals are awarded nationally, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, to wholetime and retained firefighters who have completed two decades of outstanding service to their community.
They were presented by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, at a special ceremony held in the historic Barons Hall in front of an invited audience of proud family and friends.
• Matt Bullingham, who is based at Littlehampton and lives in Partridge Green.
• Mark Burton, who is based at Crawley and lives in Lancing.
• Chris Mooney, who is based at Worthing and lives in Bognor.
• Matt Myerscough, who is based at Haywards Heath.
• Pip Pullen, who lives and works in Chichester.
• James Smith, who lives and works in Bognor.
• Giles Sparkes, from the Training, Development and Assurance team at Worthing, who lives in Storrington.
• Ed Swain, who is based at Worthing and lives in Billingshurst.
• Mark Upperton, who lives and works in Worthing.
• Matt Wainwright, who lives and works in Shoreham.
• Chris Witten, who is based in Littlehampton and lives in Angmering.
A 20-year long service certificate was also presented to a member of support staff, Barbara Cook, who works for the Training, Development and Assurance team in Worthing.
Chief Fire Officer Commendation Awards were presented to individuals and teams who were nominated for going above and beyond the call of duty.
Two members of the public received a Commendation for Bravery after a fire at the care home where they work, in Worthing, in December 2016. Amy Colbourne and Anoma Balage were looking after a resident when a fire alarm sounded. They searched in that zone and, when they found a fire, woke and helped a lady from her room, closing the door behind them to limit the spread of smoke and flames. There was a delay helping another resident who needed specific medical equipment so Anoma stayed in the room with the resident and firefighters during the firefighting stage. Amy and Anoma’s selfless actions helped save lives.
Four West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service employees received Commendations for Dedication Above and Beyond the Call of Duty for their lifesaving actions away from work and/or in isolation.
- Richard Coomber, who works for the Training, Development and Assurance team at Worthing, is a long-term Albion supporter and was on a park-and-ride bus leaving The Amex Stadium after a night game when a nearby passenger suffered a cardiac arrest. Rich was one of a number of fans who helped with vital early treatment that saved the man’s life. The gentleman made a good recovery and later returned to the club to thank those who helped to save him.
- Jon Mays, a Station Manager based in Chichester, who lives in East Preston, had finished a shift in the control room at an event in Goodwood when a member of the public suffered a cardiac arrest. Jon, and an off-duty doctor, carried out CPR until paramedics arrived.
- Rod Gates, who works for our training team in Horsham, had finished exercising at Shoreham Community Fire Station, where he is also a retained firefighter, when he saw a member of the public face down on the pavement across the road. The casualty was unconscious and bleeding badly from face and head injuries and, when he turned the patient over, Rod realised they were not breathing. He got a member of the public to call an ambulance and started CPR. He then got another passer-by to run to the fire station for help. When the casualty was handed over to an ambulance crew, approximately 25 minutes later, the person was conscious and talking and had a suspected dislocated knee, as well as head/face injuries
- Phil Castleton, a retained firefighter based at Worthing, received two nominations for lifesaving actions while not on duty. In the first incident, Phil stepped in when he saw a distressed member of the public on the wrong side of railings over a railway bridge. He tried to calm the person by talking to them for several minutes before grabbing the opportunity to pull them to safety. In a second incident he spotted a fire and gained entry to the flat before fire crews arrived. He helped the occupier from a smoke-filled room and showed real bravery in his actions.
A Partnership of the Year Award was presented to all of the organisations involved in the Safe Drive Stay Alive initiative. This included representatives from Sussex Police, South East Coast Ambulance Service, the NHS, HEMS (the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) and West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service. Thousands of young people have benefitted from the interactive road safety presentations SDSA delivers, bringing real life stories to the stage, and last year the team produced a new film for the shows.
Rob Dobbs was named Volunteer of the Year for the second year running, for his on-going dedication and commitment to West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service, giving hours of his own time to support events and safety initiatives across the county.
Lee Johnston, a Group Manager working in Operational Capability in Chichester, received a Commendation for Innovation in Safety & Wellbeing for his ground-breaking research work in Evidence Based Firefighting, much of which was carried out in his own time.
Two members of our Crewing Optimisation Group, Shaun Challis and Brian Cook, received a Bright Star Award for devising and implementing a social isolation community event, called Share the Love.
Alex Mould, a firefighter from East Wittering, was named Charity Champion of the Year after raising £9,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Fire Fighters Charity. He undertook 12 charity challenges in a year in memory of his sister, Melissa, who sadly died from CF aged just 19. His final fundraising challenge saw Alex, his firefighter colleagues, and their partners cycling from East Wittering Fire Station to Chichester town centre, all dressed as Father Christmas.
A Car Wash Champions Award was presented to Arundel Fire Station after the station’s charity car wash raised the most money for The Fire Fighters Charity, a commendable £1,000. It was the second year running Arundel has taken the title.
Gavin Watts, Chief Fire Officer and Director Operations, thanked all invited guests for their dedication and commitment to the Service, and to their local communities, either directly or in the support they have given family members. He said: “This event celebrates the very best of this county and recognises diligence, commitment and bravery. It is an honour to be able to thank everyone on behalf of West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service.”
(Additional information and individual, or local group, photographs are available on request).
West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is at the heart of West Sussex County Council's Communities and Public Protection Directorate, working to support communities to become safer, stronger and more resilient through a combination of prevention, protection and response activities.