Council staff named in Queen's New Year's Honours list

David Etheridge, who joined Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service 28 years ago, has been made an OBE while County Network Co-ordinator Katherine Powley has been awarded the MBE.

CFO Etheridge, 48, the first fire officer in the country to have been appointed as the Chief Fire Officer in the same Fire and Rescue Service from joining as a retained firefighter, said he was accepting the award on behalf of all people, past and present, who have worked for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the county council.

He has led Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service since June 2010, having held a number of positions including Station Manager of Slade Park Fire Station in Oxford and as the city's Fire Risk Manager, since joining the service in 1986.

Proudest moment of life

"I am both humbled and delighted in equal measure to have received an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen," CFO Etheridge, who has sons, Karl, 25 and Lewis, 20 with wife Rachel, said.

"Receiving the OBE is one of the proudest moments of my life - I never dreamt when I joined that one day I would become Chief Fire Officer of this fantastic Fire and Rescue Service and this really is the icing on the cake."

CFO Etheridge said his job is "a vocation and a way of life" and that being Chief Fire Officer "is a great privilege."

In 2006 he hatched 365alive, an educational programme which set out to save the local taxpayer £100m; deliver 840,000 safety messages and ensure 365 more people were alive through proactive risk reduction and educational work, focussing on preventing road accidents and house fires. Targets were all reached this year - two years ahead of schedule.

CFO Etheridge, who has lived in Abingdon for 37 years, said: "Through our prevention and risk reduction activities we have been focused over the past decade to ensure that Oxfordshire has become a safer place for people to live, work and travel.

"Particularly through being part of Oxfordshire County Council, I have strived to lead and integrate Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service into every corner of society so that each day we can make a positive difference to those we are here to serve.

"It is a privilege to work with so many dedicated colleagues and partners who provide me with tremendous support and the county councillors in Oxfordshire who have helped and trusted me to shape the county's Fire and Rescue Service to become one of the best in the United Kingdom."

A life of public service

Miss Powley, 52, oversees teams responsible for managing events and the coordination of works that affect the road network in whole of Oxfordshire.

She said she had devoted her life to public service, having also sat on a number of boards of school governors and now is a member of Board of Directors for seven Oxfordshire academies.

"It is a real honour to be made a MBE and I am very proud," she said. "My parents, who both were teachers, brought me up on the idea of providing a service to the community and it is something that I am extremely passionate about."

Miss Powley, who lives in Abingdon and previously had a similar job at the City council before joining the County in 2001, said: "I could not do what I do without the fantastic support of my county council colleagues and my receiving the MBE is the result of a real team effort.

"I love the variety of my job - whether it is mapping for the Olympic torch route or responding to an unexpected road closure - and like the rest of my team, I strive to go that extra mile in order to get things done."

Great news

Councillor Rodney Rose, the Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, who also has Cabinet responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: "It is fantastic news that David Etheridge has been awarded the OBE and many congratulations to him and his family.

"Oxfordshire's Fire and Rescue Service really is one of the best in the country and David receiving the OBE is a credit to him and to everybody who works so hard around the clock to help keep the county safe."

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: "This is wonderful news for Katherine, who has worked for many years managing the roads network, which includes liaising closely with utility companies who carry out roadworks to ensure they cause as minimal disruption as possible to motorists.

"She has also spent a considerable amount of time helping map event routes through the county, such as the one which the Olympic torch took through Oxfordshire."