Finance chief awarded Queen’s Fire Service Medal at Buckingham Palace

Publish Date:

Sarah O’Donnell helped steer historic Scottish Fire and Rescue Service merger

Sarah O 'donnell QFSM (2) STANDING UPRIGHT

Sarah O'Donnell received QFSM from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace

A finance chief who was instrumental in the creation of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service has been recognised for her career contribution.

Sarah O’Donnell is Director of Finance and Contractual Services and is a member of the Strategic Leadership Team of the SFRS.

And today, on Thursday, 9 May, she was awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal at Buckingham Palace for ensuring the national service continued to protect the public during a period of momentous change.

The finance expert was nominated by SFRS Chief Officer Alasdair Hay.


Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Chief Officer, Alasdair Hay

He said: "The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service sits where it does today thanks to the unstinting professionalism and dedication of all of its people.

"There is no doubt that Sarah O’Donnell is one of these very exceptional figures who helped to  drive forward the efforts to combine eight very difference services into one.

"Thanks to the outstanding efforts of Sarah and her team, our new national service launched with absolute confidence that we had the most robust financial systems and processes in place.

"Sarah’s work helped us to deliver efficiencies of some £56m while protecting the vital frontline services the public require.

"I would like to congratulate Sarah on her Queen’s Fire Service Medal as we continue to move forward with strength thanks to the very solid financial foundation she created."

Water Rescue Training - Swim (2)

Firefighters undertake water rescue training to protect the public

The creation of the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was announced in 2012 under the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act.

Sarah oversaw the financial merger ahead of the official SFRS launch in 2013.

A single ledger system to record all financial transactions was key to ensuring sound financial control and demonstrate best value and accountability.

A clean audit certificate for the first two years – with a smooth audit process – was achieved.

Meanwhile, pensions administration for all eight legacy services were consolidated under the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) by September 2014.

And a single, monthly payroll that brought together 20 different systems was also in place by August 2015.

Speaking after the ceremony, Sarah said: "It was an honour to learn that I had been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

"The financial merger of the previous eight legacy forces was a huge piece of work but it was achieved thanks to the effort of an outstanding team.”

Sarah is currently leading on the development of a long term financial strategy to ensure the service can achieve a sustainable financial position over the long term.