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The dedication of staff at Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service has been recognised at an awards ceremony held at County Hall in Norwich. As well as commending staff who go the extra mile, Norfolk's chief fire officer David Ashworth paid tribute to the commitment of all his teams.

The service’s unsung heroes were honoured for long service, good conduct and making a difference, as well as recognition for contributions to the Fire Fighters' Charity, Youth Development and Cadet of the Year.

CFO Ashworth praised the work of his community safety team to reassure the Norfolk public following the Grenfell Tower blaze, thanked his service for their round the clock efforts during the recent bad weather and praised crews for their support in responding to medical emergencies.

Acknowledgement for service support

Guests included families and friends of NFRS staff, the Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk Sir Richard Jewson, The High Sheriff of Norfolk Mr James Bagge, Norfolk County Council Chairman Councillor John Ward, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Communities Committee Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, Vic Thomson, David Bills, Sarah Butikofer, Judy Oliver, Bev Spratt, Tom Fitzpatrick and Harry Humphrey, Deputy Lord Mayor Martin Schmierer and East of England Ambulance Service Trust Director Terry Hicks.

Sir Richard Jewson said, “We are living in a time when our public finances are under great stress. I'm so inspired by how you develop services in changing times and we continue to look to you in an emergency with confidence.”

CFO Ashworth said, “It’s a privilege to lead our service and I want to thank all NFRS staff for doing all they can to make our communities safe and providing an excellent emergency response.

I must also thank Councillor Margaret Dewsbury, fellow committee members, the full council and Norfolk County Council's Managing Director Wendy Thomson for their ongoing support to the service.”

All of NFRS staff contributes to making this happen effectively and safely

Delivering successful outcomes

Financially, with the support from the Communities Committee, the service is in a good place, against a backdrop of significant challenges for other council departments as public finances continue to tighten.”

Operationally we have had a number of challenging incidents and periods of challenging weather. On each and every occasion our staff have risen to the challenge and delivered consistent successful outcomes.”

All of NFRS staff contributes to making this happen effectively and safely. I must also thank the employers of retained firefighters whom without their ongoing support would not allow NFRS to operate as effectively as it does.”

Growing volunteer cadre

To deliver all NFRS functions we need to have staff available, equipped and trained. We have had a high number of retirements since this time last year. We have recruited into our wholetime watches and focused a lot of time and effort into our on-call recruitment and retention.”

The Grenfell tragedy triggered a significant workload for our community fire protection team. This was a shining example of excellent collaboration with Norfolk County Council departments and other agencies. More than 150 dwellings were visited, assessed and reassurance provided.”

Fantastic work was undertaken with emergency medical response where we demonstrated what we can do to support other emergency services and our wider communities. Our youth development work continues to develop and our volunteer cadre continue to grow.”

Rising to future challenges

This is just a taste of what NFRS has delivered in the past 12 months. You should be incredibly proud of what you’ve all achieved and I am eternally grateful for all the effort you all put in.”

The next 12 months will be exciting and challenging and I look forward to working with you all as our service continues to build on the good work already underway and rises to the future challenges that come our way.”

Among those honoured at the event were cadets Jack Travis, aged 15, for volunteering and fundraising

Community service

Councillor Margaret Dewsbury said the awards were inspiring and underlined the vital work of the service and its ongoing commitment to work with Norfolk County Council's departments to best serve the communities across the county.

The awards are all very well deserved and highlight just some of the hard work and dedication across our fire service in supporting communities and keeping the public safe,” she said.

Among those honoured at the event were cadets Jack Travis, aged 15 from Wymondham, for his volunteering and fundraising work and Jess Auston, aged 17 from Diss, who carried out emergency first aid on an 18-month-old.

Firefighting service in rural areas

Anthony Pointer and Mark Sturman received awards for clocking up 40 years' service each. Retired David Brett was given three awards. The Downham Market crew were commended for maintaining fire cover for the town from a temporary base for nearly three years while a new fire station was built.

Alan Jaye and Green Watch from Earlham Fire Station were commended for a water rescue at UEA broad last October. Glen Gates and the Outwell retained crew were commended for providing good cover in a rural area where recruitment of on-call firefighters had been difficult.

Glen Gates turned the station's fortunes around and put his own time and effort into recruiting using social media and links to the local parish council to ensure the service could provide cover in the area.

Charity for rescue and life-saving equipment

Recently retired Mick Jolly was commended for clocking up 46 years of service in Watton. One of his biggest achievements was setting up a charity which went on to purchase Hydraulic Rescue Equipment for Watton as well as life-saving equipment for local charities.

Martin Tease was recognised as Youth Development Leader of the Year. As well as inspiring young people and changing the aspirations and lives of many, part-time Martin, also a PHD student at UEA, put in nearly 800 voluntary hours last year to support the Prince's Trust TEAM programme.

Councillor John Ward said, “I am very honoured to be present and humbled by some of the stories we have heard. We are rightly very proud of our fire and rescue service which is one of the best in the country.”

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