The Spirit Of Fire Awards - the UK's Fire Services awards took place in Cambridge on 10th March in front of a glittering all-star audience. The event, which recognises those within the Fire Services community that make a difference to society and to their injured colleagues, was a tremendous success and rewarded many humble heroes on the night.
Organised by the FSNBF, the event is fast becoming the most important in the entire Fire Services calendar, and this year some of the charity's celebrity supporters turned up to lend a hand. Michael Aspel, Caprice, Jon Culshaw and Shane Lynch were amongst many others who were there to show their thanks to the Fire Services community and help present awards.
Also present to hand out an award was Angela Smith, the Minister for the Fire Services, whilst the Prime Minister gave a video address to convey his enormous respect for the incredible work the Fire Services do every day. In his address, Mr Blair said, "I am delighted to support the Spirit of Fire Awards as it is a chance for us to remember and recognise the extraordinary courage, professionalism and dedication of our firefighters. Every day of every week across our country, firefighters risk injury and worse to save lives in their communities and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude."
This year also saw the Sun newspaper provide their support as the event's first media partner, with two categories being voted for by readers. As such, it was two Leeds youngsters, Giovanna and Arianna Burt who won the Firefighters' Young Hero award for their part in a fire rescue and subsequent severe burns recovery. Meanwhile, two Durham and Darlington FRS firefighters, Paul Myers and Steve Binns were voted the UK's Bravest Firefighters of the Year by the Sun's readers after an extraordinarily brave iced lake rescue.
Perhaps the most emotional winner on the night was Mike Ventre, an incredible Fire Services veteran with five decades of service to the Isle of Man FRS. Mike was recognised for his "outstanding dedication and courage over half a century" and was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award by Michael Aspel in a true This is Your Life style.
FSNBF Chief Executive and event host, Roy Lawrenson explained his pride at being involved with the event. "The Spirit of Fire Awards has become a vital part of the Fire Services community as it recognises those important individuals and teams who go the extra mile for the community. As the Fire Services charity, we see how dedicated and courageous this community is and we are privileged to be a part of it and proud to be honouring these special nominees."
Roy also thanked the generous sponsors, "Without the support of telent and O2 Airwave, this event would not have been able to take place, which shows their great commitment to our special Fire Services community."