Excellence in the Community Awards – Staffordshire

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 Staffordshire and their citations:

Outstanding Achievement Award (Special Award for Services to Air Ambulance Charities): Bill and Linda Snaith from Rugeley

Bill and Linda Snaith from Rugeley are two of the 80-strong family of Midlands Air Ambulance volunteers. They have been with the charity since 2006, and have personally raised over £7,000. They continue to attend a great number of events throughout the year and can often be seen manning the charity’s merchandise stand. Like all the volunteers, Bill and Linda gain a great sense of satisfaction from their work and they make a real difference in saving lives in the community.

Bill and Linda’s award was presented by WMAS Chief Executive Anthony Marsh and Georgia Bennett who received serious injuries in a road accident and was herself treated by air medics and conveyed by the air ambulance.

Georgia Bennett’s public blog about her crash can be read here:


Outstanding Achievement Award: George Smith, Voluntary Car Driver from Norton Bridge, Stafford

George Smith started as a van driver with the community transport service in 1994 and retired in October 2005, before returning to the voluntary care service.

Outstanding Achievement Award: Arthur Smith, Voluntary Car Driver from Stafford

Arthur Stone has been a voluntary car driver since May 2000 and operates as part of the Mid Staffordshire Hospitals contract.

Outstanding Achievement Award: Mike Hayes, Voluntary Car Driver from Doxey, Stafford

Mike is also a long serving voluntary care driver operating for Mid-Staffs hospitals contract.

Chief Officer Commendation: Andrew Burton of St John Ambulance from Stafford

What would you do if a colleague at work suddenly collapsed in front of you?  This was exactly the situation Andy Burton found himself.  As an active St John volunteer in Stafford, Andy realised action was needed and immediately took control of the situation. He started CPR and continued the treatment until an ambulance paramedic arrived to defibrillate the casualty. The patient was eventually conveyed to hospital and today he is extremely grateful to Andy for saving his life. Andy Burton is now an Emergency Medical Technician with West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Chief Officer Commendation: Jon Mannion from Wilnecote, Tamworth and James Manley from Heath Hayes, Cannock – both of St John Ambulance

Jon Mannion and James Manley were on their way to the Birmingham Headquarters of St John Ambulance when they came across a road accident on the M42. A car had gone down an embankment and the person inside had stopped breathing. Quick thinking by Jon and James resulted in the patient being removed from the car and CPR was started before ambulance crews arrived. For their professional actions in stopping to assist at a serious accident in a difficult location, Jon and James were presented with a Chief Officer Commendation.

Good Citizen Award: Wendy Birks and Michael Harding from Blurton,  Stoke On Trent

Chief Officer Commendations to WMAS staff: Rachel Parkes, Andy Semple, Karen Salt, Dr. Latif Hussain, Tom Larlow, Lamara Shelley and Christine Green

A car driver who collapsed at the wheel of his car and collided with a lamppost in Blurton was fortunate to have several bystanders go to his immediate assistance, which almost certainly saved his life. Wendy Birks and Michael Harding resuscitated the car driver and worked alongside a trauma doctor and other ambulance personnel to successfully achieve a Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC).  So important were the efforts of the bystanders and ambulance staff at the scene that the patient actually regained consciousness and was talking to staff at the scene, before he was conveyed to hospital.

Good Citizen Award: Matthew Panchal, a student at Keele University

In January of this year, a collapsed patient outside a betting shop just up the road in Newcastle resulted in a 999 call for a cardiac arrest. Arriving ambulance crews were quite relieved to see a member of the public performing external chest compressions on the patient as they arrived on scene. That vital intervention proved invaluable as it allowed paramedics to concentrate on providing their extended advanced life support skills to the patient in order to stabilise his condition prior to transporting to Hospital. Matthew was awarded in recognition of his public spirited actions on that day.

Good Citizen Award: Amy Jones, Viki Hibbs, Janet Beards from Stafford

The award goes to three bystanders who showed total disregard for their own safety when they went to the assistance of one of our own paramedics after he was attacked by a dog in Staffordshire. Paramedic Andy Hopwood was dealing with an unconscious patient when the patient’s dog – a Staffordshire Bull terrier – bit him three times on the wrist and twelve times on the arm. Amy Jones, Viki Hibbs and Janet Beards came to the rescue by dressing Andy’s wounds until colleagues arrived. Andy Hopwood assisted in presenting the three with their awards.

Business Support Award: John Pointon & Sons from Cheddleton

John Pointon & Sons have been generous supporters of Cheddleton and Wetley Rocks Community First Response Team for many years, having provided the present response car used by the team.  Not only have the team acquired a car, John Pointon & Sons have also thrown in a cottage for their use!   This year a cottage owned by the company has been renovated to a very high standard and made available to the team for use as a response post.  Having a centrally placed base to respond from will allow the team to increase the number of hours on duty for the benefit of the local community.

Business Support Award: Rob Stevenson, Burton College HeartStart Project Lead and Zoe Pagett, Burton College student

Burton College in Staffordshire has been a huge supporter of the HeartStart initiative in the county. HeartStart Staffordshire won the Volunteer Team of the Year award at this event last year and the team have since gone from strength to strength teaching thousands of people across Staffordshire basic CPR techniques.  Education colleges like Burton continue to play a key role in the success of the initiative and therefore are deserving of recognition.

Distinguished Service Award: Keith Dawson on behalf of Tame Community First Responder scheme based in Fazeley

The Tame CRF group was awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year and members of the group were also invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party. They later received their prestigious award from the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire.  Not to be outdone by Royalty, West Midlands Ambulance Service invited Keith Dawson, on behalf of the CFR group, to come forward to receive a Distinguished Service Award for their service to the local community.

Distinguished Service Award: Louise Davies of the Codsall Group of South Staffordshire Community First Responders

Louise Davies has been a CFR since July 2012 and has gone way above and beyond her role as a volunteer.  Louise is extremely proactive with local schools and businesses and led the call for a local community defibrillator to be located in the village square.  She continues to organise equipment and uniform and actively promotes South Staffordshire First Responder charity initiatives in Codsall.  A true member who supports her local community.

Distinguished Service Award: Martin Watson from Eccleshall

Martin has organised and taught numerous Staffordshire HeartStart courses, adding to the 10,000 members of the general public in Staffordshire who have taken the opportunity to learn lifesaving skills.  Martin has been a driving force in the success of the initiative and also gives his time to his community by opting to be available for 999 calls in his local village as a CFR.

Distinguished Service Award: Rob Stevenson from Burton

This award is for Rob personally in recognition of his contribution not only with his training exploits with Burton College students (see above), but also the general public in teaching them Basic Life Support. Rob continues to play a starring role in the HeartStart success across Staffordshire.

Distinguished Service Award: Mick Duncan from Rugeley

Mick Duncan is another individual being recognised for his valuable contribution to the HeartStart Staffordshire initiative. He has organised and taught on many HeartStart courses and Mick also makes himself available for his CFR roles within the region.

Chief Officer Commendation: Christopher Gosling and John Thompson from Tamworth Community First Responder scheme

Christopher and John were first on scene to immediately start treating a patient with serious complications after going into labour at a private address. The patient later gave birth to a healthy baby girl in hospital, but she was full of praise for the two CFRs who came to her aid and she even took the trouble to email West Midlands Ambulance Service to say: “I want to thank the two wonderful volunteers who took care of me – they played a huge part in saving my daughter’s life, and potentially mine too. I will be eternally grateful to them.” The patient, Lisa Guilder from Tamworth, assisted in presenting Chris and John with their awards.

Chief Officer Commendation: June Jervis and Tracey Ainsworth from Churnet Valley Community First Responders

Ambulance crews arriving on scene are always reassured to see individuals carrying out very effective CPR, using their AED, good airway management of the patient plus the quickly assessment any other patients. Such was the case in August when a serious road traffic collision which involved six patients included an unconscious casualty. June Jervis and Tracey Ainsworth from Churnet Valley CFR group were on hand and they did an excellent job at the scene. The ambulance crew could not speak highly enough of them and for their professional actions they received a Chief Officer Commendation.

Outstanding Achievement Award: John Kay from Dane Valley Community First Responders in Cheshire

John has been a Dane Valley Community First Responder since the start of the scheme over 10 years ago. He is still committed to responding and is very much seen as the ‘elder statesman’ of the Dane Valley group by the other members. At 77-years old, John is still prepared to be called out of bed in the small hours to attend an incident if circumstances require it. Allegedly, in the early days, he used to go to bed literally with his uniform in order to achieve the fastest possible response time should he get the call. John is a tremendous flag flyer for Dane Valley and drives much of the scheme’s successful fundraising which has kept them on the road and ultimately benefits the whole community, visitors to the area and occasionally people outside the area.

John Kay 2


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

Voluntary Car Drivers, are as the name suggests drivers who offer their time to the Patient Transport Services Department of the Trust to assist in transferring patients between their homes and hospital appointments where an ambulance is not needed but transport is required.

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