Fire fighters honoured in awards ceremony
22:28 25 October 2013
Woman rescued from floodwater thanked rescuers at ceremony which was more than 50 members of the emergency services receive awards.
AROUND 200 people attended an awards ceremony in Bideford Town Hall tonight (Fri) to reward North Devon fire fighters for their bravery, long service and dedication.
The first ever Group Command Awards saw more than 50 fire fighters receive awards, including those involved in a dramatic rescue from floodwater in Umberleigh last year.
Fire fighters, RNLI crew members, policemen, and a local farmer who helped in the rescue all received the chief fire officer’s commendation for their bravery.
Paul and Vanessa Glover and their seven-year-old son Silas became trapped when their vehicle was swept away by flood water at Umberleigh on December 23 last year.
Vanessa had to make the heart-breaking decision to tell her husband Paul let go of her as she struggled to climb from their car.
She was swept down the raging torrents while her husband and son clung to the roof of the car, and miraculously managed to grab hold of a tree.
And now in the first awards of its kind, those who were involved in her rescue were awarded their commendations by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue’s chief fire officer, Lee Howell.
“Statistically and logically I should have been a fatality,” said Vanessa, who appeared at the awards with Paul and Silas.
“All that mattered to me on the night was that Silas was safe, and that Paul would look after him in my absence.”
She told the Gazette afterwards: “I didn’t know if Silas has slipped off of the roof, or if Paul had followed me in, but I knew I had to survive.
“It is amazing what you can do as a mother.”
Long service and loyalty
As well as those involved in the rescue, the awards also recognised those who have committed many years to the force.
Lee Smithson, watch manager at Torrington fire station, received the long service award, having joined the service in 1992.
Area commander’s long service awards were also presented to Dave Slade, Alan Pearce, Ian Donovan and Peter Furse, who have all been in the fire service for more than 35 years.
Graham Rooke and Kevin Parfitt were honoured for their work in the Tantons Hotel prosecution and their work for fire and community safety and protection.
Caroline Anderson received a community safety protection award for her work in the area, including her work to raise awareness of road safety.
Babcock Marine in Appledore and Gregory Distribution Ltd were recognised with employers awards, and the Gazette’s own Geoff Staddon was awarded for his work reporting on the fire service over more than 40 years.
Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service’s chairman, Mark Healey, summed up the evening at Bideford Town Hall by saying he felt very proud.
“I am humbled to stand in front of you all tonight,” he said.
“It’s been a wonderful evening and it’s nice to look at something really positive for a change.”
Neil Blackburn, group commander for the fire service, said he was pleased with how the awards had gone, with around 180 people attending.
He said: “It’s nice to bring everyone together and I hope we can perhaps do this every two to three years.”
The winners of the awards were:
Kevin Drew - Community safety response
Daryl Anderson – Community safety
Caroline Anderson – Community safety protection
Graham Rooke – Fire safety protection
Geoff Staddon – Community service award
Long service awards
Kevin Pearce – Outstanding service to community safety protection
Lance Freeman – Outstanding service to operational support
Viv Gregory – Outstanding service to Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service
Recognised employer awards
Gregory Distribution Ltd
Lee Smithson – Long service award
Chief Fire Officer Commendations for Umberleigh floodwater rescue:
Chris Missen (RNLI)
Martin Baker-Rowe (RNLI)
Paul Eastment (RNLI)
Jason Dunlop (RNLI)
Bernie Mannings (RNLI)
Andrew Willis (Devon and Cornwall Police)
Dave Thubron (Devon and Cornwall Police)
Anita Williams (Devon and Cornwall Police)
Ricky Tate (Devon and Cornwall Police)
Adrian Corfield (Devon and Cornwall Police)
Dave Arscott (Community award)
Daryl Anderson (Torrington Fire Station)
Adam Pateman (Torrington Fire Station)
Caroline Bell (Torrington Fire Station)
Natalie Slade (Torrington Fire Station)
Ashley Sturman (Torrington Fire Station)
Jamie Hobbs (Torrington Fire Station)
Darren Homewood (South Molton Fire Station)
Andrew Sauerzapf (South Molton Fire Station)
Craig Morris (South Molton Fire Station)
George Hyde (South Molton Fire Station)
Shaun Vickers (South Molton Fire Station)
Mike Gill (South Molton Fire Station)
Rob Jones (South Molton Fire Station)
Dan Kelly (Camels Head Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Jason Keveren (Camels Head Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Phillip Hutchings (Camels Head Fire Station – Blue Watch)
David Tucker (Camels Head Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Cory Browns (Camels Head Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Adam Jones (Camels Head Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Peter Couch (Camels Head Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Paul Partridge (Camels Head Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Jim Malin (Middlemoor Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Damion Snell (Middlemoor Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Sam Bray (Middlemoor Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Chris Hunt (Middlemoor Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Rob Jones (Middlemoor Fire Station – Blue Watch)
Rebecca Goldsworthy (Fire Control – Blue Watch)
Kate Lewis (Fire Control – Blue Watch)
Vicky Leaman (Fire Control – Blue Watch)
Louise Durante (Fire Control – Blue Watch)
Sue Peacock (Fire Control – Blue Watch)
Cheryl Jenkins (Fire Control – Blue Watch)