North fire officer nominated for major Firefighters' Charity award

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Group manager Ally Birkett was nominated in the Spirit of Fire Awards, Supporter of the Year category

Ally Birkett

Three decades of dedicated volunteer work by a senior Aberdeen fire officer has led to a nomination for a prestigious national award.

Group Manager for Prevention and Protection in Aberdeen, Ally Birkett has been nominated in the Supporter of the Year category at the annual Firefighters’ Charity’s Spirit of Fire Awards.

Ally, who is Regional Co-ordinator for the Firefighters’ Charity in Scotland, has been a passionate, dedicated supporter of the charity for the past 30 years and his commitment has been rewarded with a nomination.

The Spirit of Fire Awards is the most renowned event in the fire and rescue services' calendar, recognising acts of selfless sacrifice within the fire and rescue community and dedication to the Charity.

Along with members of the fire service - firefighters, fire personnel, stations and brigades – these awards also honour members of the general public who have shown outstanding courage when confronted with a distressing fire or rescue situation.

Ally has worked his way through the volunteer structure from Station Representative to Regional Co-ordinator via many roles within the previous group structure.

The person who nominated Ally, Firefighters’ Charity’s Judith Scarborough, said: “Throughout his time Ally has never lost his passion or dedication to supporting the charity. It is for his exceptional support over the past year as Regional Co-ordinator that I have nominated him for this award.

“Under Ally’s leadership Scotland has continued to deliver in terms of fundraising despite significant upheaval within the region with the move from eight fire and rescue services to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.

“Last year the region raised the most of any in the UK, overtaking the north-west. Rather than allow the significant changes in Scotland to hinder fundraising, Ally has been front and centre in seizing the opportunities resulting from the single service.”

Ally was praised for his “considered and calm voice,” which helped guide staff and volunteers through the transition. He also re-shaped the entire volunteer structure in Scotland to suit the best interests of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the charity.

Ally commented: “I’m really surprised and feel very honoured to be shortlisted. I didn’t know I had been nominated. It’s very overwhelming considering there are so many deserving people of this award throughout the service.  We have an amazing team supporting the charity in Scotland.”

He joined the former Grampian Fire and Rescue Service on 4 July 1983 as a retained firefighter at Peterhead Station and then moved over to wholetime on 31 May 1990.

He’s been based at North Anderson Drive, Central and Elgin stations in operational roles and also Fire Safety, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire in managerial roles.

SFRS Assistant Chief Officer and Director of Service Delivery for the North, Robert Scott, who is also on the Firefighters’ Charity’s Board of Trustees, said: “I am delighted that the hard work and dedication of one of our officers has been recognised with this nomination. Ally is a committed individual and has worked tirelessly over a number of years to support the charity.”

The Firefighters’ Charity is the UK's leading provider of services that enhance quality of life for serving and retired fire fighters, fire personnel and their families.

Their vision is to make a positive difference by supporting people in the fire and rescue community when they are in need. Over the years, they have helped hundreds of thousands of individuals by providing world-class treatment and support services.

It costs £9 million a year to keep the charity running and with no government funding they are completely reliant on the generosity and enthusiasm of supporters.

The Spirit of Fire Awards will be held on 16th May 2014 at Park Plaza in London

Team of the year - Borders Barmy Army

Supporter of the year - Andy Hunter (Dunfermline) and Ally Birkett (Aberdeen)

Fire Service of the Year - Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

Youth Courage - Alfie Sharpe, Kilmarnock

Fire Fighter of the year - David Millward, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

For the full list of nominees click here