Three fire and rescue staff from South Yorkshire are named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021.
Control room operator Jess Grayson has been awarded the British Empire Medal.
She was named a BEM for services to mental health, having used her own mental health experiences to spearhead attempts to tackle the wellbeing issues firefighters and other emergency services workers face.
Alongside her day-to-day duties in the control room Jess, a Watch Manager, also trained resilience staff brought in to support the service’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fleur Holland and Alex Johnson are the other members of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue staff to have received honours, each being named recipients of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.
During the pandemic, Watch Manager Fleur used her role within the service’s community safety team to help coordinate the delivery of hundreds of food parcels and thousands of prescriptions to people with no other means of support.
Acutely aware of the impact the pandemic was having on the mental health younger people, she also used her role as one of the service’s youth engagement leads to organise a fundraising challenge for the service’s fire cadets. This was as a way of getting the young cadets, some of whom come from vulnerable backgrounds, to channel their physical and mental energy into something positive. The ‘999 challenge’ she inspired was adopted by fire cadets branches nationally and has raised more than £6,000 for The Fire Fighter’s Charity.
Chief Fire Officer Alex Johnson has led the county’s fire and rescue service throughout the pandemic, after becoming South Yorkshire’s first female Chief Fire Officer in 2020.
She joined joined Derbyshire Fire & Rescue as a firefighter in 1992, serving at stations across the county during a successful career in which she rose to the rank of Area Manager. She joined South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue in 2017 as Assistant Chief Fire Officer, before being promoted to Deputy Chief Fire Officer and then Chief Fire Officer.
For many years, Alex has been a member of the Executive Committee of Women in the Fire Service, a national network which supports the development of women in the fire sector. In 2019 she was named the ‘most influential woman in fire’ by FIRE magazine.
Outstanding men and women from fire and rescue services right across the United Kingdom are nominated to receive national honours each year, although only a tiny proportion of those nominations are successful.
For more information on the honours system, visit the government website here.