Holbrook firefighter among Suffolk superheroes scooping top awards

By Derek Davis

16th Oct 2022 | Local Features

Holbrook firefighter Charlotte Bird wins coveted Silver Axe, presented by Jon Lacey
Holbrook firefighter Charlotte Bird wins coveted Silver Axe, presented by Jon Lacey

Worthy winners from across Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service and Trading Standards received recognition at a glittering awards ceremony held at Ipswich East Fire Station last night.

The Fire Awards – honouring the bravery and commitment of those looking after Suffolk's communities – made a welcome return after a two-year hiatus due to Covid. 

More than 50 awards were presented, including those for long and outstanding service, as well as acknowledgement for some of the newest recruits.

Amongst them were firefighters from Newmarket and Mildenhall Fire Stations who received the Miles Hammond Trophy for their response to a road traffic collision earlier this year, when they worked tirelessly to prevent a person badly injured and trapped in a vehicle from having their legs amputated. 

They weren't alone in being honoured for their commitment, with Station Manager Darren Cooper and the LEJOG team awarded the Derek Northey Trophy for their Land's End to John O'Groats cycle ride earlier this year, which saw them raise over £54,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity whilst raising awareness of mental health support.

Trading Standards also received a Certificate of Merit from the High Sheriff of Suffolk, Jamie Lower Pinkerton, for their response to the significant outbreak of Avian Influenza in Suffolk and ongoing efforts to work with partners to slow the spread of the disease and protect the county's birds.

In addition, inspiring individuals from across Public Protection were recognised, including Holbrook firefighter Charlotte Bird who was crowned Recruit of the Year and awarded the prestigious Silver Axe for her dedication to completing the 'Approved to Ride' training last year despite facing illness.

The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Neil Elmy, Fleet and Equipment Manager, for his service of over 20 years, during which he has overseen the design, delivery, and procurement of all 150 vehicles within Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service's modern fleet. 

Watch Manager Brian Stringer also received this award in acknowledgement of his 34 years working as a firefighter in west Suffolk, which has sadly been brought to a premature end following a terminal illness diagnosis. 

Jon Lacey, Chief Fire Officer for Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Our Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Awards Ceremony provides a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the lifesaving work carried out in our county on a daily basis, with each and every winner being fully deserving of praise and appreciation for their selflessness, resilience, bravery, and commitment.  

"I am incredibly proud to be Chief Fire Officer of such an outstanding service, in which everyone plays an important role in making a difference to our communities." 

Cllr Andrew Reid, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Public Protection, said: "It is an honour to be able to present awards to the people dedicated to protecting Suffolk, some of whom have been with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service or Trading Standards for over 30 years.

"Their efforts cannot be underestimated, nor can the support of their loved ones, who also rightly received recognition last night for their invaluable encouragement, patience and understanding."

Bryony Clarke receives Excellence in the Community award

The evening concluded with the presentation of Her Majesty The Queen's Long Service and Good Conduct Medals and Clasps by Clare, Countess of Euston, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Suffolk.

It was the first time that the long service clasps had been presented after Wil Tel, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service Group Manager, campaigned for these to be introduced nationally for those in Fire and the Police who achieve 30 or 40 years of service. Wil began lobbying Government for this change back in 2013 and his dogged determination saw him write to numerous MPs, ministers, lords, baronesses, the Home Office and even Buckingham Palace to ensure that the change could come into force. 

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