West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is celebrating today following the glitzy ceremony at John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield, yesterday evening, hosted by TV newsreader Nina Hossain.
Cleckheaton Fire Station’s Blue Watch picked up the Emergency Services Award whilst former Assistant District Commander for Bradford, Pete Lau, won the Courage Award.
Cleckheaton firefighters took on a gruelling physical challenge in aid of Yorkshire Cancer Research and The Fire Fighters Charity after being devastated by the news that one of their fellow firefighters, Mat Wood, was suffering from oesophageal cancer.
‘Dutch Courage’ saw them cycle 500 miles in 48-hours from Cleckheaton to Amsterdam via France and Belgium before running the Amsterdam Marathon.
The community really got behind the firefighters and together they raised almost £17,000.
On behalf of the team, Watch Manager Damian Cameron, said: “Cleckheaton Blue Watch are proud and overjoyed to have been given this award.
“What started out as a team trying to channel their emotions and show a friend and colleague they cared turned into a community event.
“We never set out to receive any recognition or award and we feel humbled by the judges’ decision to give us this award.
“We accept it on behalf of Mat, Cleckheaton Fire Station and the whole local community.”
Mat sadly passed away at Kirkwood Hospice on May 11 aged just 44.
Following 24 years in the fire service, Pete Lau recently retired from his role as Assistant District Commander for Bradford after a cycling accident left him no longer able to walk.
The accident happened in April 2014, only weeks after Pete had been deployed to southern England as a Commander in charge of the West Yorkshire Water Rescue resources that supported the national resilience widespread flood response.
Pete had been out cycling with six friends in Wensleydale, North Yorkshire.
Eleven miles in and after a brief stop at a café, the cyclists were back on their bikes. Only a few miles later Pete was involved in a collision with a car on a downhill country lane.
For Pete this was the beginning of a battle, initially to survive and then a long road to recovery, which saw him spend a total of seven months in hospital.
As time went on Pete became a mentor for other patients at Pinderfield Spinal Rehabilitation Centre in Wakefield and his inspirational spirit touched the hearts of many.
As an experienced scuba diver, Pete also got involved in setting up a snorkel club for people with spinal injuries in the hydrotherapy pool on site.
On winning the Courage Award, Pete said: “What an experience to be in the same room with so many wonderful people, who have all done amazing things.
“In truth, all three finalists in the courage category were winners who showed amazing acts of courage against danger. To be chosen as the recipient for the Courage Award was wonderful.
“I haven’t battled my way alone; this is really a collective award for my wife Deb, my family and friends and colleagues in West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service who have all massively supported my progress from day one. Thank you.
“Thanks also to the Huddersfield Examiner and the sponsors of this wonderful event.”
Assistant District Commander for Bradford, Martin Speed, said:”We were all thrilled to hear that Pete had won the award.
“His recovery from his accident last year has been an inspiration to us all. Personally, I have never ceased to be amazed by his strength, his courage and his upbeat attitude which has sped his recovery up and got him to where he is now. Well done Pete, it’s so well deserved.”