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Elmswell on-call firefighter Brian Hawes awarded Queen’s Fire Service Medal in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

PUBLISHED: 22:30 16 June 2017

Brian Hawes, watch commander at Elmswell Fire Station, has been awarded The Queens Fire Service Medal in the Queens Birthday Honours List 2017. Picture (from 2010): PHIL MORLEY

Brian Hawes, watch commander at Elmswell Fire Station, has been awarded The Queens Fire Service Medal in the Queens Birthday Honours List 2017. Picture (from 2010): PHIL MORLEY

An on-call firefighter who has dedicated almost four decades of service to Suffolk has described being awarded The Queen’s Fire Service Medal as a “great honour”.

Brian Hawes, watch commander at Elmswell Fire Station, was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for outstanding leadership, professionalism and community spirit in his 36 years as a retained firefighter and officer, as well as supporting the community with fundraising activities.

He joined the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service as a retained firefighter aged 18 in September 1980. He has organised fire safety lessons at primary schools and village events, Christmas Eve bag-packing charity events, an annual car wash, and even a monthly bingo night.

He said: “I couldn’t believe I’ve received this honour. It’s a great honour to receive this. Reading through past recipients, there’s been some very high ranking officers, so it is a real honour.

“It’s been a tough job to keep it quiet! Receiving the honour is because of the fundraising activities we’ve done at the station for the past 10 years and we’ve just been getting on with it thinking it’s going unnoticed but obviously it doesn’t.

“If the work we do means one person goes home, tests their smoke alarm and has to change it, in theory that is one life saved.

“But I couldn’t receive this award without the crew behind me, backing me and supporting me. It might be my honour but I’ve got the utmost pride in my station and the way we do things.”

Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service’s chief fire officer, Mark Hardingham, said: “Brian has run the fire station and led the on-call firefighters in a way that has established and maintained the station at the very heart of the local community. His dedication to the professionalism of his firefighters and the manner in which they respond to emergencies in the village is exemplary – he is well known throughout the village.

“At a time when it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain on-call firefighters, and the expectations placed on those officers who lead them is ever increasing, Brian is a shining light in the service and an example to his colleagues old and new.

“Of course there are other long-serving on-call officers who have demonstrated similar commitment; what sets Brian apart is the way he has voluntarily committed his time and effort to personally lead the station in fundraising for local community groups and educating young people in the community.”

Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment and public protection, added: “The Queen’s Fire Service medal is one that is fitting for Brian and is a fantastic recognition of his professionalism, commitment and community spirit.

“The work of the firefighters, led by Brian, to promote fire safety and prevention for local people has ensured greater community wellbeing and has cemented the reputation of the local firefighters as an outstanding team.”

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