Heroic firefighters honoured for over 400 years’ service

Firefighters who have served Oxfordshire’s residents for a combined total of over 400 years have been honoured for their dedication.

Oxfordshire’s Lord Lieutenant presented ‘Her Majesty, The Queen’s Long Service and Good Conduct’ medals to 16 members of operational staff, all who have served for 20 years.

Station Manager Pat Rosum was also presented with a distinguished certificate for his outstanding 45 years’ service and Watch Manager Charles Williams for 40 years’ service. Additionally, Christine Barefield was presented with her 30 years’ certificate.

The recipients received recognition for their commitment at Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service and Community Safety’s annual achievement evening at Blenheim Palace on 17 April.

Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, Simon Furlong, said: “It is only right that we should acknowledge and appropriately recognise long service achievements.

“These awards indicate the high esteem in which the recipients are held by the authorities and the public and expresses our gratitude for their honourable service and devotion to duty.

“There were 435 years’ total service in the room, collectively an incredible amount of experience, commitment, bravery and endurance.”

Blenheim Palace’s Operations Director, Heather Carter, said: “We were incredibly humbled to host the awards ceremony that celebrates the success of Oxfordshire’s Community Safety Services and the firefighters who have dedicated 20 years or more service to its communities.”

Special recognition went to control operator Michelle Peacock, based at Thames Valley Fire Control Service in Calcot. She received the Chief’s Commendation of the Year.

On 05 January, Michelle took a call from a lady in distress, asking for Fire and Rescue to attend a house blaze in Banbury.

Michelle rapidly mobilised the correct fire vehicles and was consistently reassuring to the caller, helping them remain calm. Whilst doing this, Michelle sent additional information to her team. This was then passed to oncoming fire crews, so they were fully prepped to deal with the emergency.

Simon Furlong said: “The most impressive thing throughout the entire call was Michelle’s compassion, reassurance and professionalism. She is a well valued member of the Thames Valley Fire Control Service. Her actions, on 05 January, undoubtedly saved a life.”

Didcot-based firefighter Daniel Preston, and Mick Dunn from Kidlington, were recipients of the Chief’s Fundraiser of the Year award.

Daniel has been the driving force behind a great deal of the station’s fundraising over the last 18 months.

It began with his new-born son, Henry, being diagnosed with a rare heart condition and requiring some significant treatment at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospitals.

This exposed Daniel and his family to stresses that they never had expected to experience and through their struggles they became involved with Max’s Foundation. This charity helps those families affected by this condition and makes it easier to cope.

Daniel and his colleagues have now raised over £9,000 for the charity. And the evening was topped-off for them when Didcot was named Oxfordshire Fire Station of the Year.