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A WATCH manager from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
John Cartwright, who works at Agecroft Fire Station, has received the award for his services to the fire and rescue service.
He said: "I couldn't believe it when I found out - I think that's why it's been so easy keeping it a secret. I had to see it in black and white before I believed it!"
John joined GMFRS in 1989 and has worked at Broughton, Agecroft and Salford fire stations before taking a role at headquarters with youth engagement.
However, his work with children and young people has gone on over many years - he set up the first cadet unit at Broughton Fire Station 19 years ago and hasn't looked back.
"I had never done anything in relation to youth work before but it becomes a bug - in a nice way," said John.
"You see a real difference in the kids from when they start the cadets to when they leave, it's amazing. Parents come up and tell you what a difference it makes and it really does leave you with a warm glow inside.
"I'm still in touch with those cadets from 19 years ago and they are doing brilliantly."
John's enthusiasm for helping young people took on new heights when he became involved with developments nationally.
He has been involved in the Fire Services Youth Training Association since its inception, becoming chairman 10 years ago - a role he still undertakes.
In 2012 he took a secondment role with the Chief Fire Officers Association, helping expand fire cadets across the country, creating a national uniform and ensuring fire cadets were an educational program - even helping lead the design of a BTEC qualification.
He now works at Agecroft Community Fire Station where he is a Watch Manager, but is still involved with the national fire cadets on his days off.
Since news of his MBE was announced overnight, John has been swamped with messages of congratulation from the many people who he has connected with and helped over the years.
He said: "I've been getting messages from across the country and over Europe. My family is over the moon at the news, it's been brilliant."
For more information about Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service's Cadets visit: http://manchesterfire.gov.uk/community_work/fire_cadets.aspx