Firefighters honoured with awards for dedication, long service, and commitment

West Sussex Fire and Rescue medal winners at the awards ceremony
West Sussex Fire and Rescue medal winners at the awards ceremony

Mid Sussex firefighters were among those recognised for their long service, dedication and commitment at West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s annual awards.

Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex Susan Pyper and chief fire officer Sabrina Cohen-Hatton presented the awards at Arundel Castle on Monday, September 9.

Dr Cohen-Hatton said: “It was an absolute honour to celebrate the very best of West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service and the people who make it what it is.

“The most crucial part of any fire and rescue service is its people. Without them, we are just empty fire stations and untouched equipment.”

This year’s awards saw a special Charity Champion of the Year category set up in memory of Haywards Heath crew manager Mark Butler.

Mr Butler served for 37 years and was presented with a lifetime achievement award before his death earlier this year.

The citation marking his contribution read: “Even while battling through cancer Mark would always ask after the station, attended drill nights and was there for the crew.

“Mark’s family have been a big part of station life. The charity event attendance, the messages of support on the funding page and the money raised for Mark spoke volumes of how much people in the service respected him.”

The award in Mr Butler’s memory was presented to East Grinstead Fire Station, recognising its efforts in supporting numerous charitable causes.

Elsewhere, former Mid Sussex district commander Richard Bond was awarded the Meritorious Medal for his 40 years of service.

Beginning his career in Hertfordshire, he moved to West Sussex on promotion in 1992, working in a number of different departments before finishing his operation career as Mid Sussex district commander in 2008.

He then took charge of delivering fire safety training to businesses across the county. He retired last year after 41 years of service.

Steve Gwynn, of Burgess Hill, received a long service and good conduct medal – a national award given out on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen – to recognise two decades of outstanding service to the community.

Mr Gwynn joined West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in 1998 as a retained firefighter. He was stationed at Bognor Regis, where he had 100 per cent attendance, and then later at Burgess Hill.

He has regularly volunteered for community events and open days at both stations.

Jacquie Russell, cabinet member for fire and rescue and communities, said: “It was both humbling and an honour to attend our Fire and Rescue awards ceremony in such a special and very fitting location in order to express both our gratitude and acknowledge the lifelong, personal sacrifice and dedication to duty of our fire service personnel.”