Staffordshire’s Chief Fire Officer has presented four prestigious awards for excellent work carried out in the Stafford area.
"I am so surprised and honoured to have been chosen as the winner of this award. I am quite new to the role so it is a real endorsement that colleagues have nominated me and to have won it is an added bonus. I find working with the young people a real inspiration and get a sense of achievement to see how far they can progress with our guidance. It feels really good to be assisting young people in finding their way in life and, hopefully, helping to set them on a positive track for their future."
Joyce Underwood - Prince’s Trust Team Leader
CFO Peter Dartford last night praised the winners at the annual MORE Awards ceremony, which is now in its eighth year.
The event, held at Staffordshire County Showground, recognised the achievements of operational and support staff as well as Fire and Rescue Authority members, partners and volunteers.
Joyce Underwood, Prince’s Trust Team Leader, has scooped the Fire Service Champion – Staff Nominated award. She started with the ‘Team’ programme just three weeks before it was due to start.
Despite the limited amount of time available to her, Joyce worked hard to pull the programme and lesson plans together. The course runs over 12-weeks and is aimed at 16-25-year-olds who are not in employment, education or training. Some of the young people have difficult backgrounds and are dealing with addictions, anger management issues and anti-social behaviour. Joyce has gone the extra mile to support the participants, through the good times and the bad, and has kept an enthusiastic and uplifting attitude.
Joyce said: "I am so surprised and honoured to have been chosen as the winner of this award. I am quite new to the role so it is a real endorsement that colleagues have nominated me and to have won it is an added bonus. I find working with the young people a real inspiration and get a sense of achievement to see how far they can progress with our guidance. It feels really good to be assisting young people in finding their way in life and, hopefully, helping to set them on a positive track for their future."
Dave Askey, who works in the Business Intelligence Team at headquarters, was presented with the Peter Harrison Innovation and Improvement award. He developed a tool to separate the categorisation of domestic house fires and road traffic collisions. This has revolutionised the way that the Service measures data, in turn, making it easier to identify areas of vulnerability. Many other teams within the Service are now accessing the data to support their prevention work, enabling them to target the most at risk people and communities.
Dave said: "I’m really proud to win this award. I’ve been with the Service such a long time, about 13 years now, so it’s great to be recognised. I’m very lucky to work in a fantastic team and we are constantly coming up with ideas together so really I’m accepting this award on behalf of them too."
Central Risk Reduction Administrator Lydia Hooley, also based at headquarters, has won the Young Person of the Year award. She started her career with the Service as an apprentice. She has shown unwavering commitment and enthusiasm and is always happy to help out during events outside of her usual working hours, including the Family Day and Festival of Carols at Lichfield Cathedral.
Lydia is also championing the apprenticeship scheme by helping with the organisation and facilitation of recruitment events across the county. She has thought of ways to enhance the initiative by introducing new progression pathways. Lydia is a Prince’s Trust Mentor, which she does on a voluntary basis, providing support, advice and guidance to young people not in employment, education or training.
Lydia said: "I’m really overwhelmed and shocked, I’ve only been with the Service for 18 months and I didn’t think I’d stand a chance against the other people in the category. Starting off my career with the Service as an apprentice and then getting a full time position working in the risk reduction department has been a real achievement for me."
The ICT Department, based at the Service’s headquarters in Stone, was presented with the Leadership Message and Cultural Framework Champion award. The team was nominated by a colleague who received emotional, physical and practical support during a turbulent time in her life. Members of the department pulled together, taking as much work from their colleague as possible, allowing her to adjust to her new situation. They not only assisted her during working hours, they also took turns to call her outside of work to make sure that she was ok and to offer practical help.
Mark Adams, Head of Information and Communications Technology, said: "It was an honour to be shortlisted, particularly in the Leadership Message and Cultural Framework category, and I am really proud of the team for winning the award. It is a testament to how we all stick together and look out for each other. When one of our colleagues was struggling, everyone chipped in to make sure that she felt comfortable and supported during that difficult time. I feel that this is even more of a privilege due to the extremely high calibre of the other shortlisted candidates."
Chief Fire Officer Peter Dartford said: "The calibre of the shortlisted nominees this year was second to none and the winners of the MORE Awards are incredibly well-deserving. They have shown an admirable level of commitment to serving the communities of Staffordshire and have played an important role in helping to make the county one of the safest places to live, visit and work. I am extremely proud to be at the helm of an organisation that has such a dedicated, hard-working and innovative team, be they operational firefighters, support staff, Fire and Rescue Authority members or volunteers, their contributions are greatly appreciated."