Life-savers given top Queen honour

VOLUNTEER life-savers from two Essex towns have spoken of their delight after learning they will be honoured by the Queen in gratitude for their hard work and dedication.

Elliot Furniss

VOLUNTEER life-savers from two Essex towns have spoken of their delight after learning they will be honoured by the Queen in gratitude for their hard work and dedication.

The Brightlingsea and West Mersea first responders will be given the Queen's Award for Voluntary Services - only the second time members of the national community first responder scheme have received such recognition.

Now plans are being made for an official presentation of the certificate by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex Lord Petre on behalf of Her Majesty.


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The honour recognises excellence in voluntary activities carried out in communities and is for those who regularly devote their time to helping others, improve the quality of life and opportunity for others, and strive to provide an outstanding service.

West Mersea volunteer Bill Norman spoke on behalf of the groups and said they were “extremely honoured” to have been recognised in such a way.

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He said: “Although we knew we were being nominated, we were still very surprised when we heard the news.

“As far as we're concerned, we are grateful we can help the people in our communities, and the ambulance service.”

The groups were successful because they were able to demonstrate that they have a proven track record of active involvement in the community and they meet a particular need.

First responder volunteers are trained to attend emergency calls received by the ambulance service and provide care until the paramedics arrive.

John Hopkins, the East of England Ambulance Service's Essex first responder coordinator, said he made the nominations because the groups were part of the original pilot scheme set up in 1997 and had shown “real dedication and enthusiasm.”

He said: “They play a very real part in providing pre-hospital care in life threatening situations within their communities.

“They often go above and beyond what is required of them in terms of the time and effort they put into the group, and of course when it comes to responding itself, they have proved to be exceptional volunteers.”

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