Avon Fire & Rescue Service recognised in The Gambia New Year honoursAvon Fire & Rescue Service recognised in The Gambia New Year honours

Avon Fire & Rescue Service is celebrating after being recognised in the New Year honours in The Gambia.

The organisation has been awarded the insignia of Commander of the National Order of the Republic of The Gambia (CRG). This is the highest honour awarded by the President of The Gambia Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya A JJ Jammeh.

This award recognises the work of the organisation, including that of Avon Fire Authority Members and AF&RS staff to support the Gambia & Avon Fire Services in Partnership (GAFSIP) charity.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer / Chief Executive Kevin Pearson said: “I am delighted and honoured to receive this prestigious accolade. Not only does it recognise the training and donations we have supplied to The Gambia over the years, but it also pays tribute to the work of our staff in organising fundraising events, collecting items, filling containers and raising money for the charity.

“This is a huge honour for Avon Fire & Rescue Service to be recognised in a foreign country and it gives excellent recognition to the partnership, which many people across the organisation have been committed to for a very long time.”

The GAFSIP charity began 17 years ago when Dave Hutchings, a former Chief Fire Officer at Avon Fire & Rescue Service, was on holiday in The Gambia. He witnessed a road traffic collision in which two adults and four children died, because of a lack of rescue equipment available.

When he returned home he decided to try and make a difference by raising money to pay for equipment no longer being used in Avon to be shipped to The Gambia.

Since the project began The Gambian Government has built 12 new fire stations, with each division of the country now having its own fire and rescue service cover from the capital Banjul to Basse, the largest populated area. This has led to the creation of around 800 jobs.