Fire services responding well to pandemic but held back from fully supporting public
Too many firefighters have been prevented from fully supporting the public during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in England
Dedicated fire and rescue staff stepped up to support the communities they serve during the Covid-19 pandemic, but working arrangements between Fire and Rescue Service National Employers and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) prevented some firefighters from maximising the support they could provide to the public, a report published last month has found.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) inspected how each of the 45 fire and rescue services in England responded to challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Overall, HMICFRS found that the Fire and Rescue Service responded very well to the pandemic. Services maintained their ability to respond to fires and many services provided pandemic-specific support outside their statutory duties.
This included driving ambulances and delivering essential items to the most vulnerable as well as personal protective equipment to those in healthcare. Firefighters also assisted in moving the bodies of those who died from the virus.
However, some fire services were unable to maximise this support due to outdated and restrictive working practices within the sector. This caused delays to how some fire and rescue services provided support. Some firefighters were also asked by their union, the FBU, not to volunteer to support the NHS Test and Trace system, and the Covid-19 vaccination programme, says the Inspectorate.
The report found that an agreement put in place between the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), the National Employers and the FBU, aimed at making provisions for firefighters to do more to support their local communities, became more of a hindrance than a help for some services (see pg 35 for the NFCC’s report on the effectiveness of the Tripartite Agreement).
This agreement prevented or delayed some chief fire officers from deploying the right people with the right skills to better support communities when they were most in need of help.
HM Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services Zoë Billingham said: “Our inspection showed an inspiring willingness from fire and rescue staff to step up and provide any support they could to help communities during these unprecedented times. I want to thank all those who stepped forward for their efforts in carrying out essential and often distressing duties and demonstrating their commitment to putting the safety of the public first.
“We now need to see the sector match these individual efforts by removing the unnecessary barriers which are preventing firefighters from providing further support when it is so desperately needed. Chief fire officers should be unhindered in their ability to deploy their workforce rapidly, safely and effectively to protect the public.
“I am calling on those responsible to act in the national interest, remove the barriers and ensure that dedicated firefighters can now use of all their considerable skills where they are most needed in our shared fight against Covid-19 and beyond. The public would rightly expect every emergency service to be doing everything within its power to tackle this pandemic.”
Last month, the National Employers and the FBU failed to reach a national agreement for the continuation and expansion of what additional support fire and rescue services can provide their communities during the pandemic. This includes how services can support the national vaccination programme.
The Inspectorate says this is despite the National Employers confirming that all Fire and Rescue Service staff would be provided with the same health and safety safeguards as the other agencies they are supporting, such as the NHS.
HMICFRS says it will be closely monitoring the consequences of this.
This report on the fire and rescue response to Covid-19 follows the Inspectorate’s previous review of the sector in 2018, which made six recommendations for the fire sector to encourage it to modernise and improve its service to the public.
See pg 6 for the FBU’s response and pg 15 for exclusive reports.
FBU responds to “political and biased” Inspectorate report
The Inspectorate is doing the bidding of government and fire chiefs to attack firefighters, says the Fire Brigades Union
Responding to the annual report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, Matt Wrack, FBU General Secretary, said: “This report is a political and biased attack on firefighters. It is neither evidence based nor an independent report and is instead full of untruths and omissions and we totally reject it. While firefighters are out tackling fires, floods and the pandemic, the HMICFRS didn’t even have the courtesy to speak to or provide us in advance with a copy of their report, which was passed to us by a journalist.
“The FBU has from the start wholeheartedly supported the response to the pandemic, and as a result of agreements delivered by the union, firefighters have been able to take on significant areas of additional work including driving ambulances, moving the bodies of the deceased and delivering vital supplies to the NHS and care sector and vulnerable people in our communities.
“But the message from this report is clear: fire chiefs and the government don’t want workers to have a voice over their own safety or their terms and conditions. That’s why employers, advised by fire chiefs, tore up a national agreement containing vital safety measures. This report is being used to undermine a trade union they consider a nuisance because it wants to keep its members safe.
“It is remarkable that in the same breath the Inspectorate claims the FBU produced ‘unnecessarily detailed’ safety requirements and also that large staff absences driven by outbreaks ‘didn’t materialise’ in the Fire and Rescue Service. How does the Inspectorate think these outbreaks were prevented? It was a direct result of paying serious attention to workplace safety by the FBU and its members.
“It is also wrong to say that the FBU asked firefighters not to volunteer to support the vaccination programme. On 9th December, the FBU and employers signed an agreement that said should a request be received for support with vaccinations, that both parties ‘will move quickly to support such a request’.
“Our priorities throughout this pandemic have been to ensure firefighters can safely support their communities, the NHS, and the care sector. That means protecting their health but also the services they work in which continue to respond to emergencies A service with 11,000 fewer firefighters than a decade ago cannot afford for this virus to run rampant through fire stations.
“The FBU wants firefighters to continue supporting the pandemic response but sadly it seems the Inspectorate, doing the bidding of the government and fire chiefs, is more intent on attacking our trade union and helping to undermine the terms and conditions of firefighters.”
Home office ministers thank Fire Service and police for vital work in Coronavirus fight
Fire and rescue services and police forces will continue to play a crucial role in protecting the NHS and saving lives, Home Office ministers said during calls with emergency services leaders
The Fire Minister said that the next six weeks would be critical and reiterated that continued support from FRSs in the national effort was vital. Fire Minister Lord Stephen Greenhalgh held a call with all chief fire officers from across England to thank them for their efforts in supporting other emergency services during the pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic, Fire and Rescue Service staff have voluntarily undertaken a range of additional activities – including delivering essential medical supplies, transporting patients to hospital, and providing training on preventing infections to care home staff.
Lord Greenhalgh said: “I am immensely proud of the contributions of firefighters and FRS staff during the pandemic.
“They have proved themselves to be ready, willing and able to support the national effort to protect the NHS and save lives.”
Policing Minister Kit Malthouse held a call with chief constables from police forces in England and Wales. The Minister thanked officers for their tireless efforts throughout the pandemic and reiterated the government’s support for the police’s role in enforcing the regulations.
Police will continue to follow their approach of engaging, explaining, encouraging and finally enforcing the rules where necessary to save lives.
Mr Malthouse said: “This is a crucial moment in our national fight against Coronavirus, and the police are playing a vital part in protecting the NHS and saving lives.
“We expect to see an increase in visibility during the national lockdown, and police will continue to target the most serious and harmful breaches of the rules.
“We’ve asked more of our police than ever before during this pandemic – I know the British public are truly grateful and we’ll continue to give them the support they need.”
Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards postponement
Due to the impact of another lockdown and the uncertainty over when restrictions are likely to be lifted, the Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards organisers, Fire Knowledge, have cancelled the virtual awards on March 19
Awards organisers Fire Knowledge issued the following statement:
‘This was obviously a very difficult decision to make but due to the lack of clarity of when the impositions will be lifted from lockdown and what the subsequent tier restrictions will be, there is a high risk that we could not be able to present the high quality ceremony we would like and is expected from nominees, sponsors and supporters.
‘The outstanding entries for the virtual awards will be put forward for the December 3 event which will take place as usual at One Great George Street, Westminster.
‘The Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards have received growing support and appreciation over the years and as organisers we are duty-bound to produce the best possible event which we felt would not be assured, even virtually, on March 19.
‘We do look forward to welcoming our supportive sponsors, outstanding nominees and special guests to this December’s event when we look forward to seeing you in person’.
The seventh Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards will take place on Friday 3rd December 2021 at One Great George Street, London.
National education platform from emergency services launches
The nation’s emergency services have teamed up with a range of national safety charities to produce a new website – www.StayWise.co.uk – packed full of their collective safety education resources and offered as a free learning platform aimed at pupils aged three to 11
StayWise brings together the educational resources of the emergency services linked to the national curriculum. That means pupils can learn about fire safety as part of a maths lesson or write a set of escape plan instructions in an English lesson.
The National Fire Chiefs Council leads on the partnership behind StayWise. Partners include the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, HM Coastguard, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, the National Police Chiefs Council, Injury Minimisation Programme for Schools and the Royal Life Saving Society.
The site offers free lesson plans, videos, and activities to help educators teach young people about potentially lifesaving advice within core curriculum subjects.
Roy Wilsher, Chair of NFCC, said: “The Fire and Rescue Service is committed to keeping our communities safe. StayWise is a fantastic new resource for everyone to use. It offers teachers, parents and the emergency services consistent and effective educational materials to help young people learn about a range of safety topics.
“This is even more critical at this time, when so many of us are isolated and need to make positive decisions in our day-to-day lives to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.”
Chris Bigland, NFCC’s Lead for Education, and StayWise Programme Director, said: “StayWise is committed to saving lives through education. By working together with our partners, we have produced a consistent learning resource that educators from across the community can use with confidence, whether they’re teachers, home-schooling parents, or emergency service staff and volunteers.
“We have released the site early to support home learning for three to 11-year-olds, but we’ll be expanding the resources available for older age groups in the coming months.”
Fire Service personnel recognised in the New Year Honours list
This year’s Queen’s New Year Honours List recognised the outstanding contributions of fire and rescue personnel for assisting with response to the Covid-19 pandemic
The Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Roy Wilsher, said he was delighted and proud to see a number of people from across the UK FRS receiving honours in this year’s prestigious list.
Mr Wilsher said: “It goes without saying that this year has been very difficult and has presented a number of challenges for everyone. I am incredibly proud of the outstanding work carried out by all fire and rescue services’ staff and how everyone has gone above and beyond to support the response to the pandemic.
“Once again, we see a number of FRS staff receiving a prestigious honour and I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all those recognised, while giving thanks for all the hard work, dedication and commitment of all staff.
“It is no surprise that firefighters and fire and rescue services’ staff stepped up and took on additional work to help those who needed it most as soon that help was required. This is continuing as the pandemic changes – we remain ready, willing and able to step up and help, this includes being ready to help support the vaccination programme.”
The list below highlights people from fire and rescue services who have received a Queen’s New Year Honour.
- BEM: Paul Thompson. For services to the community in Saltburn.
Dorset and Wiltshire FRS
- BEM: Christopher Martin. For services to the community in Ramsbury, Wiltshire.
East Sussex FRS
- BEM: David (Bill) Brewster. For services to fire safety.
- BEM: Martin Cable, For services to the community in Maldon.
London Fire Brigade
- BEM: Lisa Barker. For services to the community in London during the Covid-19 response.
- BEM: Ashley Gordon. For services to the community in London during the Covid-19 response.
- BEM: Harry Aquilina, For services to the community in London during the Covid-19 response.
Northern Ireland FRS
- MBE: Karen McDowell, Station Commander. For services to the Northern Ireland FRS and to the LGBTQ community.
- BEM: Kenneth Ashby. For services to the community in Suffolk and to The Fire Fighters Charity.
QFSM (Queen’s Fire Service Medal)
- Martin Blunden, Chief Fire Officer, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
- Andrew Cole, Area Manager, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service
- Lynsey Seal, Principal Fire Engineer, London Fire Brigade
- David Pitt, Crew Commander, West Midlands Fire Service
- Stuart Errington, Chief Fire Officer, County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service
- Ben Ansell, Chief Fire Officer, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service
- Chris Strickland, Chief Fire Officer, Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service
- Trevor Ferguson, Chief Fire Officer, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.
New Deputy Chief Fire Officer appointed for Northumberland
Graeme Binning has been appointed Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer following an extensive selection process
Graeme who was born in Stirling in Scotland, joins Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service where he was Area Manager/Local Senior Officer for East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire and Inverclyde. In this role he was responsible for the delivery of the fire and rescue service across three local authority areas covering a population of 350,000, incorporating seven wholetime stations and four retained duty system stations.
Commenting on his appointment, Graeme said: “I am delighted to be joining Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service and I’m looking forward to getting to know my new service and everyone working within it.
“Having been with NFRS for only one week, I have had a really warm welcome and have already started to develop some thinking in collaboration with the service leadership team.
“I’m also looking forward to being part of Northumberland County Council and working with our partners to support the delivery of an excellent service to our communities and residents.”
Paul Hedley, NFRS Chief Fire Officer, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Graeme to Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service. He will be a tremendous addition as we continue to push forward on our improvement plans and bring real innovation to the services we deliver for our communities and partnerships.
“I’m really excited about how he will work with all of our staff and colleagues at Northumberland County Council to shape and influence the future of NFRS.”
Frontline charities join forces to launch national wellness campaign
Four charities have teamed up with the country’s leading emergency service discount provider, Blue Light Card, and wellbeing organisation, Get Active, to support frontline staff and help boost morale with the launch of a special fitness and wellness challenge
Last year marked a year like no other for UK frontline staff as they battled to keep the nation safe. With the colder weather here to stay and the arrival of a new strains of Covid-19, emergency services teams are feeling the pressure now more than ever.
Blue Light Card, Get Active, The Fire Fighters Charity, The Air Ambulance Service, The Ambulance Staff Charity and Police Care UK have joined forces to help raise spirits and vital funds for the charities that support critical workers by asking the public to ‘get active’ and take part in a series of month-long sponsored exercise and wellness challenges.
The challenges include running, cycling, yoga and mindfulness – all of which have been designed to boost the physical and mental wellbeing of participants, supporting those who work tirelessly each day in some of the nation’s most stressful professions.
The campaign also follows a recent survey of Blue Light Card members, which revealed that 43 per cent of frontline workers have found it hard to stay positive over the past year, with workplace stress singled out as the biggest contributor to stress levels. In a bid to show resilience, and to improve mental and physical health, two thirds (66 per cent) of those surveyed tried new ways of exercising as routines changed and the nation learned to adapt to a new way of life.
Figures from Get Active also revealed that one in three people of working age suffer with poor mental health and 70 million working days are lost each year in the UK as a result.
The new campaign will run until February 14 with participants encouraged to get involved by registering online on the Get Active website.
Tom Dalby, CEO of Blue Light Card, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that our emergency service workers have been working tirelessly, often with little time for themselves. As a result, for many this has left their physical and mental health taking quite a hit. But for those that have managed to find new ways of exercising, the benefits have been recognised.
“Supporting emergency service teams has always been at the core of what we do, and even more so after we’ve seen first-hand just how hard they’ve worked to keep us safe this year. That’s why this campaign is particularly special for us.
“We are excited to be working with these incredible charities, to provide a challenge that everyone can get involved in, no matter their abilities or interests. We look forward to seeing lots of people getting involved over the coming weeks and to helping boost the wellbeing of so many of the nation’s critical workers whilst also raising money for some really worthy causes.”
David Kelly, Director at Get Active Challenges, also commented on the partnership: “We are delighted to be able to provide our Get Active platform to the UK emergency services and their supporters, encouraging new ways for them to adapt, move and stay well, whilst supporting the essential work carried out by their charities.”
For registration and more information on the Blue Light Get Active Challenge visit: https://getactivechallenges.com/bluelight/
First in line to offer Covid support
National Fire Chiefs Council Chair Roy Wilsher expresses his pride in the ‘amazing response’ of fire and rescue personnel to the Covid-19 pandemic
This time last year, a hospital in Merseyside was gearing up to accept around 100 British nationals from the Chinese city of Wuhan, a city which was relatively unknown to the wider world, but a name which is now indelibly stamped in most people’s minds.
At the time, there were no known outbreaks in the UK of this relatively new strain of Coronavirus, but its impact was already being felt internationally.
The Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) knew it had to move quickly; looking at how it could help, how it could mobilise staff to assist with what would become a pandemic on a scale the UKFRS had not known for generations.
There was no question FRS staff would want to help and would be first in line to offer their support to those who needed it the most.
The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) worked with national fire employers and the Fire Brigades Union to create a tripartite agreement that started out as an enabling framework for Covid activity. NFCC also worked with government to ensure that firefighters and other fire staff professionalism, experience and extensive skills could be utilised as soon as possible. Helping to reduce pressure on the NHS, in partnership with our blue light family, health and social care colleagues.
I have talked before about the wide range of additional activities undertaken by the FRS, whether delivering items to vulnerable people, driving ambulances, delivering PPE, assisting care home staff and sadly, mortuary support. This happened through the first phase and continues today.
But in the past few weeks this has moved up a gear, with an amazing response from the UKFRS to support the mass vaccination programme. From helping to set up the centres, supporting people at the centres, to actually administering the vaccinations. The FRS command, control and logistics skills along with our ability to work with the vulnerable have been invaluable.
On an almost hourly basis we are hearing from staff who are involved in these activities. Radiating from our colleagues is their pride about how their involvement is helping to combat this terrible virus; how they want to be at the heart of the response and support their communities.
The pride I feel when seeing these stories is humbling; and I know every chief fire officer shares this – many of whom are also out on the frontline assisting – while working tirelessly to run their fire services. They are also ensuring their staff are afforded the right health and safety measures, to keep both them and communities safe.
More colleagues, each and every day are joining the vaccination effort; more and more staff being trained to support millions of people to receive vaccinations. This is on top of the other Covid-related work underway. We are also receiving testimonials from the public, which shows staff are exactly where they should be; at the heart of response.
Safety measures are at the heart of the response. There is not one single fire chief who does not take their responsibilities for the welfare of their staff seriously. These measures were developed at a national level, providing a framework of best practice available, to be locally implemented and were established with clinical and other professional guidance.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the recently published HMICRS report. The one area I would like all staff to take away is HMICFRS’s statement: ‘Overall, Fire and Rescue Services responded very well to the outbreak. Services maintained – and continue to maintain – their ability to respond to fires and other emergencies in these extraordinary times.”
Yes, there are lessons to be learned from the report which we should acknowledge and then move on. When the report was published, I stated: ‘I am pleased that senior leaders, firefighters and staff have been praised for their outstanding work. They have done amazing things during this period and they should be proud of the contribution they have made’.
This contribution continues and I have been humbled by the response we have seen – and continue to see.
I think it is worth reminding ourselves that in April last year, Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, told a government select committee that keeping the number of UK deaths below 20,000 would be a “good result”, which was a shocking figure to hear at the time and was difficult to comprehend.
Yet the number of fatalities now stands at more than 100,000 in the UK, which has devastated lives, families and communities. There are few people who have not been touched by the pandemic and I would like us all to take some time to remember these people and all those who have suffered as a result.
The UKFRS will continue to support where it is needed to; this is what our people do best – step up, help and make a difference.
Advisory panel no longer needed to provide independent assurance to West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
An advisory panel set up to provide independent assurance of the improvement of West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is no longer needed, according to the chair of the panelThe chair of the Independent Advisory Panel for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service updated a Cabinet meeting of West Sussex County Council to say that the external scrutiny panel was no longer needed given the progress that has been made.
The advisory panel was formed following an inspection by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services in November 2018.
Ann Millington, chair of the panel and Chief Executive of Kent Fire and Rescue Service, said that West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service has taken ‘significant’ steps to improve.
She has also written to the Leader of West Sussex County Council and Cabinet Member for the Fire and Rescue and Communities with her decision.
The letter states the service ‘is moving in the right direction in capable hands’ under Chief Fire Officer Sabrina Cohen-Hatton.
In her letter, Ann Millington, says: ‘The progress to date leads me to believe that the steps that West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service have taken to improve the service are significant. It will undoubtably take time to fully embed the improvements, and the service has a clear plan in place to do so. It is therefore my intention to close the Independent Advisory Panel’.
Her letter outlines progress including:
- A significant programme of work relating to improving issues relating to people, with clear strategic priorities underpinned by a People Action Plan.
- The service has fully reviewed its business planning processes and restructured to create capacity and align new internal governance processes that have reduced bureaucracy and enabling more efficient decision-making with clear routes.
- Securing opportunities for effective member engagement in its activities has since been a clear priority for the service.
- The service recognises the critical importance of operational resilience and has made significant progress in assuring this.
- The panel also acknowledged the additional £5.1m funding (over three years) and changes to governance and structure, with the fire and rescue service now under a single leadership model reporting directly to the Chief Executive.
Reacting to the letter, Paul Marshall, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “I am incredibly pleased the Independent Advisory Panel have recognised the significant progress being made by our fire service. This is a big step forward that the panel have decided now is the right moment for them to step back as we continue progress to improve. I would like to thank Ann and all the members of the Independent Advisory Panel for their support and guidance.”
Twenty years on and still going strong
Andy Fry OBE, on behalf of the Board of Directors of Fire Knowledge Ltd, marks the outstanding contribution made by Editor Andrew Lynch during his two decades at the helm of FIRE magazine
Those of you with a keen eye might have noticed a rather inconspicuous footnote to Andrew Lynch’s FIRE Comment piece in the October 2020 edition of the magazine: ‘This month marks my first 20 years as editor. A heartfelt thanks to all my colleagues and contributors – past and present – for your patience, advice and encouragement. To you, dear reader, thank you for keeping me honest’.
Whilst Andrew’s words were, characteristically, focused on thanking others for their help during his time as editor, they did nothing to reflect the hugely influential contribution he has made to the UK fire and rescue sector since taking the reins at FIRE in 2000. Frankly, as Board members of Fire Knowledge Ltd (the owners and publishers of FIRE), we were not going to let him get away with that!
Leading Professional Practice
Soon after people had taken their fingers out of their ears, opened their eyes, and realised that the dreaded ‘Millennium Bug’ hadn’t brought the world to its knees after all, a fresh-faced Andrew Fraser Lynch arrived at the offices of FIRE to take over as the magazine’s seventh editor.
Having done so, Andrew quickly became a highly-influential figure in the UK fire and rescue sector – a position he has maintained ever since. Under his leadership, FIRE magazine has consistently kept its readers abreast of current affairs and leading professional practice, as well as challenging current thinking, exploring new ideas and, in doing so, helping to shape the direction of the sector. In short, Andrew’s FIRE doesn’t just report on the fire and rescue agenda; it helps set it.
As well as successfully overseeing production of the magazine for 20 years, there are many other aspects of Andrew’s career on which he should look back with pride. From launching the first International Joint Operations Command Conference in 2004, to introducing the Excellence in Fire & Emergency Awards in 2014, and chairing The Fire Fighters Charity from 2016-2020 (having been a significant fundraiser for years), you don’t need to look too far to find evidence of someone who’s actively sought opportunities to maximise his contribution to fire and rescue.
‘Fire for All’
His impressive CV notwithstanding, perhaps the most remarkable thing about Andrew is that, even after 20 years, his enthusiasm for FIRE continues to grow. So much so that, in 2019, he had a ‘Victor Kiam’ moment, and decided that he liked the magazine so much he would buy it – or at least a share of it! Since then, with the support of the Board, he has focused a huge amount of energy on our ‘Fire for All’ subscription offer – an initiative aimed at making the magazine available to all personnel in fire and rescue services. So far, his efforts have opened a window to the FIRE world for over 21,000 additional subscribers and, in doing so, created a new opportunity for 21,000 fire professionals to increase their knowledge and develop their professional practice. Quite an achievement.
And on the subject of recent achievements, how might a career journalist have a ‘cherry put on the cake’ of a successful 20 years as Editor of FIRE? Well, by winning an award for being an outstanding journalist, and that’s exactly what happened when Andrew won the Coronavirus Journalism Excellence: Best Comment Award from the Press Gazette last year. Proof positive that, after all these years, he’s still got it!
So, from the Board of Fire Knowledge Ltd, and behalf of everyone in the fire and rescue sector, our sincere thanks to the award-winning Andrew Lynch for your exceptional contribution over the last two decades and we look forward to working with you as the journey continues…