Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service has handed out awards to staff from across the county in recognition of their years of loyal and exemplary service.
A medal ceremony was held at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury, in front of guests including the High Sheriff of Shropshire, Dr Josh Dixey, and vice Lord Lieutenant, Colonel Mark Cuthbert-Brown.
It included presentations to two men who have clocked up 40 years of service, three who have reached 30 years, and a further eight people marking their 20-year milestone.
The High Sheriff’s Good Citizen Award, for an individual who has made ‘a substantial contribution to society’, went to prevention team manager Rabinder Dhami, who has led the way in promoting community safety in Shropshire over two decades.
The citation said: “He has truly made a huge difference in keeping people safe in their homes. In recent years he has pioneered the data sharing agreements we have with partners, that ensure the service protects the most vulnerable people within our communities.”
Chief fire officer Rod Hammerton presented awards to two officers marking 40 years of service.
Self-employed builder Graham Dudley is based at Clun Fire Station, where he started his career as a retained firefighter. He has also served at Shrewsbury, and was crew manager at Clun from 1994 to 2013 before reverting to a firefighter role, to ‘let the younger generation come through’.
Simon Griffiths is watch manager at Whitchurch, and a key member of the service’s group support team. He worked as a commercial cleaner for 26 years, followed by a decade at the Royal Mail. He recovered from serious injury after once being hit by flying debris, when attending an industrial estate fire during a hurricane.
Three other staff received certificates for 30 years of service, presented by Councillor Chris Mellings.
Darren Smith started his career at Tweedale as an on-call firefighter, before moving into training in 2004. He is currently the training centre manager at Telford.
Brian Welti moved to Shropshire in 2005 after starting his fire service career in West Glamorgan. He is now the watch manager at Baschurch, as well as being a magistrate, parish councillor, and school governor.
Glenn Willis began his career at Baschurch as a firefighter, having previously worked as an apprentice at Rolls Royce Motors. He still works as a diesel fitter, now employed by Caterpillar.
A further eight people received 20-year long service and good conduct medals. They were:
Paul Barrett: Based at Albrighton Fire Station, he is also a Severn Trent network technician, and kick boxing instructor, with black belt second dan.
Mick Davies: Based at Minsterley Fire Station, he is married with three children, and has progressed through the ranks from firefighter to watch manager.
Scott Goode: Began working in Shrewsbury, before moving to Tweedale, and now works with red watch at Telford Central. He has represented Great Britain in the Firefighter Triathlon championships
John Green: Started his on-call firefighter career at Whitchurch, and has also provided cover at Wem during nights and weekends. He works for BCM Limited at Waymills.
Craig Jones: Based at Market Drayton, he has worked as a prison offer at Stoke Heath for the past 15 years. Craig also plays hockey for Market Drayton.
Dale Pound: Started at Ludlow, and has served as crew manager there since 2010. He is also a crew commander with the West Midlands Fire Service, stationed at West Bromwich.
Kev Rogers: Started with the West Midlands Fire Service, at Bilston, but transferred to Shropshire in 2005. He has represented Great Britain at motocross, and recently completed an ironman triathlon.
John Wilks: Based at Cleobury Mortimer, he has worked for Severn Trent Water for 15 years, and was once part of a team which had to rescue a colleague from inside a collapsed building.
Master of ceremonies, Group Manager Neil Griffiths, said: “It is from the dedication of such men and women that the stature and worth of the Fire Service continues to grow.”
Other awards handed out on the night included the Telent Shield, for outstanding contribution to charity fundraising.
It went to Kat Frost, an on-call firefighter from Clun, who raised £5,000 by running the London Marathon, and was also a member of the Fire Tones singing group which raised £10,000 with their version of Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’ last year.
There was also recognition for Emily Hodson, Lisa Baer and Kat Frost, who won the David Bishton Charity Shield which went to the department raising the most money for the Fire Fighters Charity. They organised the service’s first Christmas Charity Ball.
Miniature medals were also presented to friends and family of several dedicated firefighters in recognition of their support. They were handed out by Eric Carter, chair of the Shropshire & Wrekin Fire Authority.
The Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medal were created by Royal Warrant in 1954 to honour those who have given long and meritorious service. The inscription thanks them for ‘exemplary fire service’.
Shropshire has a proud tradition of long serving firefighters. Alfred Thompson, from Whitchurch, is believed to be the longest serving UK firefighter of all time.
He joined Shropshire while Queen Victoria was on the throne, serving for a record 57 years through to the age of 73.