Excellence in the Community Awards – Coventry and Warwickshire

Friday 8th November 2013 – 3.20pm – Chris Kowalik.

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An awards ceremony has been held to honour members of the public from across the West Midlands region who have gone beyond the call of duty to help save lives and support the work of West Midlands Ambulance Service’s 4,000 staff.

The event, sponsored by Cardiac Science, Ferno UK and SP Services at the Best Western Plus Stoke-on-Trent Moat House on Thursday 7th November recognised the efforts of Community First Responders, St John Ambulance, other emergency services and other voluntary organisations, businesses and individuals.

Addressing the audience, West Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive Anthony Marsh said: “Tonight is a celebration to say a really big thank-you to all of you and your colleagues for what you do on a regular basis to help and support the ambulance service here in the West Midlands but, more importantly, to provide the very best care that you consistently do on a daily basis to save as many lives as we can. It’s not by accident that West Midlands Ambulance Service is one of the best performing ambulance services in our country. That takes an awful lot of hard work, not just by our own staff that we employ but also by the volunteers. Over two thousand volunteers work on a regular basis to support the ambulance service here in the West Midlands and I am really grateful for all the support that you provide. I would like to add my personal thanks to your partners and your families for the support they give you. I know that what you do is held in very high regard and I am really proud of the work that you do.”

The Trust’s Chairman, Sir Graham Meldrum turned to poetry to pay tribute:

“Oh volunteers come ye may, Serving the communities both night and day, I’d like to speak on behalf of all the nation, And thank-you for your dedication.”

Presenting some of the awards Susie Lillingston, the High Sheriff of Staffordshire said: “The ambulance service is under increasing pressure every day and as volunteers you have an exceptional role as you help in so many different ways. All of you are invaluable and essential services for which we, the general public, are very grateful. Let’s not forget those who do the fundraising which is a thankless task but without which much of the work some of you do just wouldn’t be possible.”

Award winners from Coventry and Warwickshire and their citations:

Good Citizen Award: ‘Blue Watch’ at Foleshill Fire Station – Watch Commander Tim Parsons and Crew Commander Mark Leeson

A further example of good working relations between the emergency services was in evidence at a serious house fire. Firefighters from Blue Watch at Foleshill fire station were first on scene at an incident.  They immediately became involved in the resuscitation of a patient and the treatment of a second person. Crew Commander Mark Leeson was singled out by ambulance crews for his prolonged efforts to resuscitate a patient. Mark and Tim received their awards in recognition of their professionalism and excellent working relations at the scene of a serious fire incident.

Community Training and Defibrillator Award: Alan Howarth

Alan Howarth, a volunteer with ‘Coventry First Responders’ is recognised for educating and training in schools throughout the Coventry area. A police officer by day, he is a Community First Responder (CFR) and CFR coordinator in his spare time.

Community Training and Defibrillator Award: Caroline Holmes from the Arrhythmia Alliance

The Arrhythmia Alliance is a charity based in Stratford-upon-Avon which was set up following a tragic incident where the founder’s husband died from a sudden heart attack with an undiagnosed arrhythmia. The charity has to date helped communities place Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) throughout the UK and they have this year placed 23 AEDs in Warwickshire.  The charity has also launched a new campaign in Warwickshire to give away 20 AEDs free to schools. They also have the support of many local and parish councils and of course West Midlands Ambulance Service. The award was presented to the Arrhythmia Alliance in recognition of its excellent work in the community.

Caroline Holmes 1

Business Support Award: Chris Thompson, Coleshill Station Commander from Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service

Midlands Emergency Responders (MER) is a local charity operating as part of the CFR scheme and tasked to emergencies by the ambulance service. Station Commander Chris Thompson from Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service has generously supported the group by allowing them to use Coleshill Fire Station. There is a distinct possibility that several more fire stations may be also used by CFR Schemes in the future. For his support to the CFR scheme and the wider assistance of Warwickshire Fire Service, Chris Thompson was presented with a Business Support Award.

Distinguished Service Award: Brett Sinson from Long Compton

The CFR scheme recruits people from all walks of life. Take Brett Sinson as an example. He is a busy dentist in Oxfordshire  by profession but still has some spare time to serve as a CFR in Warwickshire.  Brett was nominated by his colleagues and the local parish as a true local hero.

Distinguished Service Award: Keith Higginson from Shipston

Keith Higginson has served as a CFR for over 5 years. Keith is the holder of the Queen’s Emergency Services medal. He has raised thousands of pounds for his local scheme and is an outstanding ambassador for the CFRs and his local community.

Distinguished Service Award: Paul Mallabone from Rugby Community First Responder scheme

Recently a local CFR Scheme was given a national award for their excellent work in the community. The Rugby CFR scheme has also won the local Rugby Mayor’s charity award.

Chief Officer Commendation: Sue Osborne and Sally Daniel from Henley Community First Responder scheme

In January when the temperature registered minus 6 celsius and snow was falling, Sally Daniel and Sue Osborne were called out to a crashed car. Despite not having a 4×4, they set off to the rescue. They found two people standing at the side of the road in freezing conditions for over 40 minutes. Fortunately no-one was injured and they only wanted to get back home safely. Sue and Sally duly obliged and took them to the next village where their family later collected them.  It’s not all about treating patients for injuries. It can also be about support for those that live in a community, as Sally Daniels & Sue Osborne demonstrated on that winter night.

Outstanding Achievement Award: Jim Leonard from Lapworth

Jim Leonard has been a long server, firstly with the fire service as a co-responder and then after his retirement he continued to be a CFR. Ten years on Jim is still very much part of the CFR scheme. Jim’s award was in recognition of his valuable contribution to the community. Jim was unable to attend but his award was received on his behalf by Bobby Qayum, West Midlands Ambulance Service’s Community Response Manager for Coventry and Warwickshire.


Community First Responders are everyday members of the public who are trained in life-saving techniques, including the use of a defibrillator. They are essential in areas that are remote, far from an ambulance station and hard for an ambulance crew to reach quickly. Their availability, close proximity and local knowledge are among their many assets.

About St John Ambulance:

St John Ambulance teaches people first aid so that they can be the difference between a life lost and a life saved. It teaches young people in schools and through its youth programmes. It teaches employees for their workplace, and it teaches people in the community. Some become St John Ambulance volunteers, providing first aid at events, or supporting their local ambulance service.

Media requiring further information relating to St John Ambulance representatives or to request interviews should contact:

Jo Cunningham PR Officer 07815 913887 or jocunningham@cakemedia.co.uk

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