Shropshire firefighters at royal garden party

Three members of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have been honoured with invites to the Queen's Royal Garden parties.

Wem Watch Manager Phil Smith, Shrewsbury Fire Control Watch Manager Ian Titley and Station Manager Neil Griffiths attended the prestigious Buckingham Palace events in June.

Chief Fire Officer John Redmond said: "The honour is in recognition of their dedication and good work for the county fire and rescue service.  We are very proud of them."

It was particularly a very proud moment for on call firefighter Phil Smith, who returned fit for duties despite suffering several cardiac arrests almost seven years ago and spending five weeks in Intensive Care.

"The fire service has been a major part of my life and my family, friends and the Brigade gave me the strength to return to active duties after 12 months.  It would have been easy to sit down and never return to work again but that's not me," said Phil (58), who is also acting Watch Manager at RAF Shawbury.

He now still turns out in the middle of the night to answer emergency calls in Wem and the surrounding area and continues to sacrifice days out and holidays.

"I'm very committed to the fire service.  I even turned out to an incident the morning after our wedding.  My wife has got used to it after 38 years."

During his service Phil has attended major incidents at Cox's Chemicals, COD Donnington, Wem Town Hall, a Wem tyre fire, and mill fire along with hundreds of other incidents.

After his royal garden party with the Queen on June 4, he said: "I feel very honoured.  It is a lifetime achievement in my eyes."

Ian Titley, who has served Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service as both a firefighter and control room operator for almost 40 years, said” “It was a good experience and very memorable. I never expected to get the chance to go to such a royal event.”

Ian (57), a former firefighter who lives in Newport, has been answering 999 calls as a control room operator at Shrewsbury fire HQ for the past 29 years. He joined fire control after a sports injury meant he could no longer continue as a firefighter.

He was in charge of one operation five years ago which later featured in BBC Real Rescues which recreated his efforts when he spoke to a woman trapped in a bedroom as fire and smoke engulfed her Whittington home.

Ian spoke to the woman throughout her ordeal until a firefighter climbed up a ladder to rescue her. Ian kept her calm while collecting details of the house layout to relay to firefighters racing to the scene. He ensured she closed the bedroom door, stayed where she was, sealed the bottom of the door and remained by the window.

Station Manager Neil Griffiths attended the royal garden party on Thursday this week (June 12) for his work in setting up a unique service with the Red Cross to offer emotional help and support to victims of Shropshire fires.

Red Cross volunteers are called out to provide practical help and advice and give people a place of refuge as part of the Fire and Emergency Support Service initiative. The Red Cross is celebrating 150 years of humanitarian action.

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