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Helston MBE recipients 'thrilled to bits'
12:00pm Friday 21st June 2013 in News
Helston’s fire station manager and a flying paramedic at Culdrose are among those being recognised in this week’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Helston fire station manager Keith Stringer refused to believe he had been made an MBE until he saw it “in black and white” printed online at 1am on Saturday.
He said: “It doesn’t say you have got it [definitely] – I think it’s done so you don’t say anything. As time went on I got less and less confident, thinking ‘I haven’t got it, I haven’t got it.’ I was up until 1am waiting for it to go online.
“I was over the moon – thrilled to bits with it. It’s not just me, I work with a big team.”
In addition to his role as an on call fire officer, which he has been for the last 36 years – the last ten as station manager – Mr Stringer leads the Phoenix Project in Helston and works closely with the project in Falmouth, as well as being a ‘fire setter advisor’, talking to young people about fire.
“I just love doing it. I’m getting this MBE for something I really love doing; you can’t ask for better than that,” he added.
The 56-year-old lives in Helston with his wife Diane and they have two daughters, Sara and Clare, and five grandchildren.
Previously he worked at RNAS Culdrose, from where he took early release, and now he and his wife are carers to a severely disabled man.
Mr Stringer was quick to thank those around him, saying: “I would not be honoured in this way without being part of a large team. This award is for them as well.”
He thanked Cornwall Fire and Rescue, the Phoenix Team at Falmouth, Helston Community Fire Station, Helston Community College, the town’s police community support officers Paul Whitford and Beth Pascoe, and all at Helston Phoenix Mentoring Project, including Karen Harvey and the students, as well as his family.
Allan Cottle has been a frontline paramedic with the South Western Ambulance Service (SWAST) for almost 30 years and was honoured with an MBE for his work with the search and rescue crews based at Culdrose.
He pushed for the introduction of rapid response motorcycles across Cornwall - an innovation that has helped saved countless lives.
The 59-year-old also works closely with 771 Naval Air Squadron, and over the past 15 years has developed training programmes that allow the Royal Navy search and rescue (SAR) fliers to readily “third man” in a SWAST ambulance at a moment’s notice.
In addition, initiatives he spearheaded mean the boys from 771 have more than a dozen dedicated, winch-trained SWAST paramedics they can call on to help with their regular rescue sorties.
“The vision that Allan had was years ahead of its time,” reads the MBE nomination form, completed by his colleagues at 771.
“And due to a lot of hard work, that vision has been realised and it is now acting as a template for other ambulance services and SAR bases across the country – a testament to his commitment and ability.”
Despite the bravery and dedication that Allan has shown, including the rescue of seven serious injured seamen from the floundering container ship Horncliffe in February 2008, he said that the honour “came out of the blue, really”
His wife excitedly read out the letter from the Cabinet Office to Allan over the phone while he was out on a job.
“I thought it must be somebody else,” he said, “Other people get MBEs, not me.”
“I have had all the emotions. I feel a bit embarrassed and humbled to be honest because the guys I’m working with at the squadron, they are the silent, quiet heroes.
“I really hold those guys in awe, and for them to take the time to mention me is such an incredible privilege.”
Elsewhere around Falmouth Dennis Charles Arbon, philanthropist and director of the “Cornish Sinfonia” orchestra, has also been awarded an MBE for services to the arts and the community in Cornwall.
Both Dennis and Allan can look forward to receiving their medals at a ceremony known as an “investiture”, which is usually held at Buckingham Palace, later this year.
Also made an MBE was Lieutenant Commander Geoff Hayward for his service when he was the commanding officer of 857 Naval Air Squadron at RNAS Culdrose between 2010 and 2012.
During that time he was deployed to Afghanistan to conduct surveillance and then almost without a break he went to work in the NATO Libya Campaign.
The squadron is part of a force affectionately known as the ‘Baggers’ due to the radar being held in a big bag on the side of the helicopter.
Lt Cdr Hayward said: “I am immensely proud to have had the privilege of commanding 857 and to have done so during demanding operational deployments to both Afghanistan and Libya. Without exception, 857’s highly professional and effective team of aircrew, engineers and intelligence personnel has made the command task an absolute pleasure for me.
“I am humbled to have been nominated for a MBE; this award reflects the hard work and dedication of everyone on 857 NAS – a squadron that I will hold in the highest of regards and for which I have only the fondest of memories.”
He is now working at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire.
Other people in the county receiving honours include Jill Stein, the former wife of celebrity chef Rick Stein, who is director of The Seafood Restaurant in Padstow and has been made an OBE for services to the restaurant industry.
Philanthropist Dennis Arbon, from near Falmouth, has been made an MBE for services to the arts and the community in Cornwall.
Also made an MBE has been Alan Conquest from Hayle for voluntary services to the Royal British Legion and SSAFA Forces Help, while in Penzance Dr Michael Hersant has been given the honour for services to the community and St Just Fire Station manager Clive Williams for services to the service and community.
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