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LAST night, staff members from across Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) were awarded medals for a combined total of 600 years of dedicated public service.
A total of 22 uniformed staff received Fire Brigade Long Service and Good Conduct Medals for 20 years of service, presented by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Mr Warren J. Smith JP, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.
Two non-uniformed staff members were awarded the Fire Authority 20 Years Long Service Award Medal and three received the Fire Authority 40 Years Long Service Award Medal – presented by Chairman of the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, Councillor David Acton.
The recipients – from firefighters and officers to mechanics and catering assistants – attended an awards ceremony with their families last night (Wednesday, April 1, 2015) at the Imperial War Museum North in Salford Quays.
Between them they have rescued dozens of people from fires and collisions, saved several lives and dedicated hundreds of hours to helping the community and raising money for various charities.
A number of those who received their medals attended the Manchester bomb in 1996, the Irlam gas blast in 2010, the civil disorder in 2011 and last year’s Manchester Dogs’ Home fire.
During the ceremony, GMFRS’ County Fire Officer Steve McGuirk said: “When I listened to the recipients’ stories as they went up to the stage to collect their medals, three words came to mind – pride, duty and self-sacrifice.
“I'm incredibly proud of everyone here tonight and I want to congratulate each and every one of you for your service. I also want to thank your families – many of whom are here tonight – for the support they have provided to you over the years.”
Head of Engineering and Technical Services, John Collier, who collected his medal for an incredible 40 years’ service, retired on Tuesday (March 31, 2015). Following in his father’s footsteps, John joined GMFRS as an apprentice mechanic in 1974 and has since worked his way up the ranks.
He said: “Looking back over my career it’s been an enjoyable and sometimes challenging 40 years but I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Watch Manager Steve Wilcock, from Bury Community Fire Station, received his 20-year medal and marked a career that’s so far seen him rescue a three-year-old child from a house fire, save the lives of two young men after a collision and star in a children’s safety film.
Steve said: “I still enjoy the people I work with and the friends I’ve made as well as the side splitting laughter that’s daily on Green Watch.”
Station Manager Paul Duggan, also receiving his 20-year medal, remembers being one of the first on the scene at the Irlam gas explosion and resuscitating an elderly man after a house fire in 1997.
He said: “I’ve spent 20 years mostly laughing and sometimes crying – but it’s been a privilege to work with the people that make up GMFRS.”