Awards celebrate a decade of fantastic youth engagement
An awards ceremony set against a backdrop of high emotion and pride took place at Essex County Fire and Rescue Service’s Kelevdon Park Headquarters yesterday, marking a decade of achievement in youth engagement.
The first Children and Young People Awards recognised young people and ECFRS' own dedicated and committed youth team along with partners who teamed up with the fire service to share skills and experience to turn around the lives of young people from all backgrounds.
In the last 10 years, FireBreak has helped more than 3,000 young people in Essex, Young Firefighters has engaged with more than 1,500 young people. ECFRS has just been named as the National Centre for Excellence for the delivery of Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards throughout UK fire services, allowing Essex to set the standards for youth work nationwide.
Over the years, courses have been expanded into all areas of society working with youth offenders, young people in troubled families, the disabled, unemployed and a number of charities.
One of ECFRS' most successful partnership schemes has been its work with children with Down Syndrome, working with charity Down Syndrome Extra 21. Earlier this year, that work was recognised with ECFRS being awarded a World Down Syndrome Day Award from Down Syndrome International. The award recognises the scheme’s outstanding achievements which have strengthened and enriched the lives of people with Down Syndrome.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Adam Eckley said: “These awards recognise the young people, who taken the lessons they have learned through our youth engagement schemes on to help them build better lives for themselves and their families.
“We should never under estimate the high esteem and respect given to the Service by the public and our youth schemes have very successfully exploited our status as a strong and positive community role model to help young people achieve their full potential.
“Thousands of young people have used our schemes as a springboard to success, taking the lessons they have learned from our team of dedicated instructors and applying them to their lives in a fantastically positive way.
“Youth engagement is something we are all proud to be involved in.”
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service was honoured to provide a platform for the presentation of a Prime Minister's Big Society Award. On behalf of the UK Fire Minister, Director of DCLG's Fire, Resilience and Communities Directorate, Neil O'Connor attended the event to praise all UK Fire Services for their exemplary work with children and young people. President of the Chief Fire Officer's Association CFO Paul Fuller received the award on behalf of colleagues up and down the country.
Following polished and energetic performances from two groups of Essex young people epitomising the spirit of the evening - Britain's Got Talent TV semi finalists Sweet Chix and Youth Creation - the following ECFRS awards were presented:
- School Community Safety Competition Award: Daisy Barns
- FireBreak Squad of the Year 2014: Streets Ahead (partner), participants on the father and son FireBreak squad
- Firebreak Student of the Year: Alfie Bell
- Firebreak Achievement Award: Darren Ellis, Mark Willmott and Jonathon Turner
- Young Firefighter Student of the Year 2014 :Louis Cowen
- Young Firefighter Achievement Awards: Terry Smith and Connie-May Anderson
- Fire Cadet of the Year 2014: Brogan Bates
- ECFRS Children and Young People Champion 2014: Harriet Smith
- Partner of the Decade: Down Syndrome Extra 21
- Firebreak Dedication Awards to ECFRS youth instructors: Steve Bonsor, Mark Eaglestone, Michael Jakes, Ean Summerfield, Lee Hollingworth, Phil Owens, Larry Harris, Mark Blakebrough, Gary Dyer, Russ Durrant and Mick Crisp
- Inspirational Leadership Awards: Peter Mountier, Lindley Chambers, Karl Amoss and Andrew Brown
- Special Recognition Awards: Lin Kettley and Les Nicoll
- Damsel in Distress Award: Michael Jakes
- Beacon Award: Donna Finch, ECFRS Children and Young People Manager
Among the winners were two Firebreak students who went on to become a firefighter at Hawkwell and another who is an ECFRS volunteer.
Attending celebrations on the night were Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant, Lord Petre, Chairman of Essex County Council, Councillor Norman Hume, Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston, a keen supporter of ECFRS schemes, representatives from Essex Police and key partner groups. A number of Chief Fire Officers from neighbouring brigades and local authority representatives also joined the 350 plus guests, including Essex Fire Authority Chairman Anthony Hedley and Vice Chairman, Ann Holland, members and senior management and staff.
Master of Ceremonies, ECFRS Director of Safer and Resilient Communities, Assistant Chief Fire Officer Paul Hill, said the evening reflected fantastic young people, doing fantastic things. ECFRS, he said, continues to demonstrate to young people that success is within their grasp and achievable through 'grit', determination, hard work and self belief.