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London firefighter awarded Queen’s Fire Service Medal

Les Bowman, a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade for 23 years, has been awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal in recognition of his service to Londoners
Les Bowman has been awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal
Prestigious medal awarded to 23-year career firefighter

Les Bowman has been awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, in recognition of his service to Londoners during a 23 year career with the London Fire Brigade.

Les, currently a Station Manager at Kingsland Fire Station in East London, joined the Brigade in 1986 as a firefighter at Dagenham Fire Station, where he stayed for 15 years followed by a brief stint at Whitechapel Fire Station, work at the Brigade's HQ and then postings to Barking Fire Station and the Barking and Dagenham Borough team. He was promoted to Station Manager at Kingsland in September 08.

When asked about his most memorable ‘shout', Les remembers a house fire in Dagenham in the late 80s: "I was part of a crew that saved the lives of two children trapped in a burning house. We were wearing breathing apparatus and some of us went through a bedroom window and others entered through the front door. We managed to find the children and bring them out. I'll never forget that."

Apart from fighting fires, Les has also devoted a lot of time in recent years to promoting fire service careers to black and minority ethnic Londoners. Taking up a post with the Brigade's outreach team allowed him to act as a role model for young black men and women thinking about joining the fire service. Les is also a familiar face at the Notting Hill Carnival, managing the Brigade's participation in one of the capital's biggest events.

Alongside his work in the community, Les has also always been keen to promote equality for people within the Brigade, and has sat on a number of groups developing policies or supporting colleagues who need help or advice. It was his dedication to diversity that saw him win a London Fire Brigade special achievement award in 2007.

Les, 44, from Tottenham, said: "It was a lovely surprise and a very proud moment when I received a call on Saturday to tell me that I'd been given this award. I didn't leave school with many qualifications and wasn't sure about the career I wanted, but joining the Brigade is the best decision I ever made. It has allowed me to do something worthwhile and make a difference."

Brian Coleman AM FRSA, Chairman of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority said: "This award is a great honour for Les, and for the Brigade, and is just reward for his work. He particularly deserves recognition for his efforts to promote equality in the fire service and raise the profile of firefighting within black and minority ethnic communities."

The Queen's Fire Service Medal is awarded by Her Majesty the Queen to members of the fire service who have exhibited devotion to duty or acts of gallantry.

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