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Record Haul of Awards for Firefighter

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Hampshire News | Record Haul of Awards for Firefighter | Andover & VillagesA firefighter who has helped raise more than £100,000 for charity and put on parties for thousands of pensioners has been awarded a trio of gongs.

Kevin ‘Jasper’ Taylor took the top accolade of the Chairman’s Award at Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service's Celebrating Success event for his incredible achievements during the past 30 years.

The 60-year-old dad-of-three, from Portchester, also scooped the accolades for the Sports and Social Award and the Hampshire Fire Fighters Charity Award - it is the first time anyone has won more than one of the trophies.

The granddad and retired Southsea Fire Station crew manager said: "I don't know exactly how much I raised because I never kept a tally. Every time I did another event I would look at it as a one off but then if it went well I would want to arrange it again.

"I was really moved by the work of The Fire Fighters Charity, which I had first hand experience of, and I just wanted to give something back to help others.

"I was surprised but delighted when we got the award for the Cockleshell Challenge and I didn't think for a moment I would get The Fire Fighters Charity award.

"I was trembling when I was called up to get the Chairman's Award - I was absolutely gobsmacked. I still can't believe it. I came here expecting to win nothing but I seem to have hit the jackpot."

When Jasper was not keeping the public safe as a firefighter he was helping to raise huge sums for a variety of charities with open days, car washes, concerts, parties, quizzes, race nights, cycle rides, ladder climbs, fitness challenges and supermarket bag packing.

However, he is also well known for his pensioners Christmas parties which started off in a small room at Southsea Fire Station but moved to the Pyramids Centre and then Portsmouth Guildhall as its popularity grew. Last year more than 350 attended.

He has also worked closely with the Beneficial Foundation - which teaches independent living and job skills to those in need - and Portsmouth City Council on ways to help others.

His list of previous accolades include the Portsmouth City Council’s civic award in 2006 and being named one of the country’s happiest people in the Independent on Sunday’s Top 100 Happy List 2013.

The event was held at Hampshire Constabulary training headquarters in Netley last night (23/11/17) which was hosted by radio presenter Sasha Twining.

The first award was for his key part in the Cockleshell Heroes event in which an intrepid team of 25 firefighters retraced one of the most daring missions of World War II. This year they have embarked on a continuation of the challenge.

The event raised more than £14,000 for The Fire Fighters Charity, Royal Marines Charitable Fund, Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Special Boat Service Association.

He was also called to the stage to collect an award for being Hampshire Fire Fighters Charity fundraiser of the year for his support of the organisation which he has worked with for 25 years.

In the past nine years alone his efforts have raised more than £26,000 for the charity.

Jasper’s involvement with the charity was inspired by the support he received from them when his daughter Lucy, was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when she was young.

Southern Regional Fundraiser Kerry James said: “Jasper has worked tirelessly over 25 years supporting the charity through various activities, engagement with the crew and the community resulting in thousands of pounds being raised for The Fire Fighters Charity.

“It has been my honour to work with Jasper who always goes beyond the call of duty and has helped so many people.

“This is without doubt a much-deserved award for his unstinting commitment and enthusiasm for all things charity.

“Jasper always leads by example and is involved with several fundraising initiatives at any given time.

“I am so pleased that his efforts have been recognised through this award as he really is an inspirational and caring individual.”

He was the station’s representative for the charity as well as area co-ordinator and a firefighter home visitor.

For 10 years he was also the Diversity Liaison Officer.

On station he was nicknamed Jasper due to his resemblance to Birmingham comedian Jasper Carrott and since retirement in October he has maintained his links with the service and charities.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority (HFRA) Chairman Councillor Chris Carter said: “People are used to our incredible firefighters going the extra mile; so to stand out among people of this calibre is truly remarkable.

“Jasper’s tireless fundraising and work in the community is inspirational and he has been a wonderful ambassador for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service upholding the very finest traditions.

“It is almost impossible to measure how many thousands of people's lives have been affected by his efforts and dedication.”

At Celebrating Success the Innovation Award was won by the #INeedMySpace campaign which educates motorists on ways to drive and park to avoid slowing down emergency vehicles.

This multi-award winning campaign was picked up by services across the country and received fantastic support from crews, the public and the press.

The Partnership Award went to Rushmoor Fire Station and the local Community Care Team which joined forces to make Safe and Well visits as effective as possible.

Work is currently underway to bring Hampshire Constabulary into this to advise residents about doorstep cold-calling and criminal activity in the area.

The Supporting Organisation Award went to The Beaulieu Estate which has worked with the fire service for more than 100 years.

The estate still releases employees to be on-call firefighters and this year held a special 999 Open Day to celebrate its close relationship with the county's emergency services.

Station Manager Andy Piller won the Charity Supporter of the Year for his challenge to raise £40,000 for Leukaemia Busters by his 40th birthday in September 2020 in memory of his best friend.

He has raised £28,000 so far with events including a golf day and an Ironman challenge.

The Hampshire Police and Fire Heritage Trust team scooped the Volunteer of the Year Award for creating an incredible exhibition marking the history of the blue light services in the county.

The collection took 18 months to put together and is one of only two such exhibitions in the country.

Chief Dave Curry chose two people to win individual of the year - Rachel Cameron for her positive attitude during the implementation of the Information Computer Technology (ICT) and its challenges and Firefighter Martin Miesi for his work on crewing arrangements on station.

The Team of the Year went to Wickham Fire Station for the outstanding level of on-call cover they provide and their dedication to training which they voluntarily do at weekends for no extra pay.

They also won silver medals at the National Breathing Apparatus Challenge at the Fire Service College this year.

The Celebrating Success event was attended by Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire Nigel Atkinson and High Sheriff of Hampshire Mary Montagu-Scott, and was streamed live so people could watch it remotely.

Long service awards were given to Crew Manager Ian Gregory and Firefighters Pete Lemon and Steve Winter for completing 20 years at HFRS.

Internal Communications Officer Deborah Beaton, Crew Manager Guy Andrews, Group Manager Ingrid Leonard and Station Manager Andrew Weeks got certificates for serving 25 years.

Those who had completed 30 years were Group Manager Tony Deacon, Watch Manager Dave Stephens, Watch Manager Pete White, and firefighters Julie Barton, Steve Lowry, Chris Mockett, Steve Payne and Rob Young

Firefighter Andrew Gussman and Station Manager Tim Pringle have served for 35 years while Firefighter Kevin Bicknell has served more than 40 years.

Crew Manager Andrews was called away on a 'shout' so his award was collected by his wife while Firefighter Bicknell was surprised by his station crew which turned up to cheer him onto the stage.