18 June 2009
Leatherhead AdvertiserFire and emergency support service (FESS) volunteers in Surrey have been honoured with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2009. It is the highest honour that can be bestowed upon volunteers and equivalent in status to the MBE.
The award, established in 2002 for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, recognises the outstanding contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others. Nominations can only be made by members of community served by the volunteer group, making this the people’s award for the unsung heroes who devote their time selflessly to helping others.
Always ready to respond
John Drudge, Surrey Red Cross FESS coordinator, said: “The award is a great honour and recognition for all the hard work that our committed volunteers have put in to provide support and care to vulnerable people in a crisis.
“We rely on our volunteers to respond at a moment's notice, which takes some dedication. They help out at all hours of the day or night to help others. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led organisation and without our volunteers we would never be able to give people the help they need in a crisis. Well done to them all; a fitting reward.”
Providing help and advice
The FESS team helps people cope in the aftermath of a fire or emergency, providing practical help, advice and comfort. Volunteers help with everything from helping find alternative accommodation, to providing warm blankets and hot drinks. They are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Endorsing the nomination, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service chief fire officer, Russell Pearson said: “It was an honour to endorse this nomination and we did so without hesitation. We owe a huge vote of thanks to the fire and emergency support service whose presence alongside our fire crews undoubtedly speeds our efforts in bringing incidents to a successful conclusion.”
Dedicated, passionate and professional volunteers
He added: “A fire can be frightening and the impact devastating. FESS is there throughout to counsel residents through these traumatic experiences and to help them rebuild their lives on the other side. The dedication, compassion and professionalism of its volunteers is unquestionable and as a county we should be extremely proud and grateful for their work. As a service, we congratulate them and look forward to continuing to strengthen our working relationship with them.”
Set up in May 2003 in Surrey, the number of FESS volunteers has since grown from the initial nine to 22. Just last year they assisted 471 people at a total of 158 callouts, including 380 adults and 91 children.
Become a FESS volunteer
More about the Red Cross in Surrey