Banbury firefighters honored at special awards ceremony at Blenheim Palace

The firefighters were part of a group of firefighters to receive medals on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen at a special event at Blenheim Palace.

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire attended this prestigious event to present the “Her Majesty, The Queen’s Long Service and Good Conduct” medals to nine firefighters, each with 20 years of service.

Lord Lieutenant Tim Stevenson OBE was also present and presented medals to eight firefighters. It was his last official duty as Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire before his retirement, after 13 years of service.

Four of the firefighters recognized at the ceremony are from the Banbury Fire Station. They are Martin Cowley, Mark O’Connor, Anthony Lampitt and Tom Northcote.

Richard Bowley, a resident of Oxford, received a certificate to recognize his 40 years of service, initially as a firefighter; then after his retirement from operational duties as a valued member of the service’s Incident Command Team based at Slade Park Fire Station in Headington.

Rob MacDougall, Fire Chief of the Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, said: ‘Having had to postpone the ceremony last year due to the pandemic, I am absolutely delighted that we now have could mark and recognize these remarkable achievements. These awards reflect the service and public appreciation and gratitude for the dedication of every dedicated firefighter.

Emily Hirons, Head of Operations at Blenheim Palace, said: “We are delighted to be able to once again host the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service awards ceremony here at Blenheim Palace. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to our amazing firefighters, and it is an honor to be able to welcome them here at the palace.

Rob MacDougall, Chief of the Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, and the four renowned Banbury firefighters – Martin Cowley, Mark O’Connor, Anthony Lampitt and Tom Northcote. (photo by Oxfordshire County Council)

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Special recognition went to West Oxfordshire resident Max Ebeling, 14, who received the Chef’s Commendation for 2021.

In the early hours of March 19, 2021, Max was woken up by a cracking and popping noise in the corner of his bedroom. Upon investigation, he discovered that the fuse panel under his bedroom next to the front door was on fire.

Max acted quickly and alerted his family to the ongoing situation. At this point, the smoke detectors had not gone off due to the location of the fire, which was spreading through the void in the downstairs ceiling and next to the front door. Upon reaching the first floor landing, the smoke detectors sounded the alarm and the family quickly escaped up the stairs in front of the growing fire, through the back door of the property, where her father dialed the number. 999.

Medals received by Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service firefighters, including four from Banbury Fire Station (Image from Oxfordshire County Council)

Due to Max’s quick and calm actions, he gave the family precious seconds to escape before the exit route became smoky and potentially impassable due to smoke and fire. Although the smoke detectors went off as intended, Max’s quick thinking allowed for a safer and quicker exit from the property.

Fire Chief Rob MacDougall added, “Max was an absolute star – his quick thinking and calm actions saved his family from serious injury or worse. Max is a worthy Fire Chief Commendation winner. “

“This story emphasizes the importance of having working smoke detectors in your home and of checking them regularly.”

West Oxfordshire teenager Max Ebeling receives award from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Chief Rob MacDougall (Image from Oxfordshire County Council)

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