Volunteers from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have won a major award for their charity efforts in aid of Bulgarian orphans.
The ten strong group of firefighters, councillors and a control room operator raised more than £3,000 for three orphanages with a number of fund raising activities including the Oswestry Santa Run, a bucket collection at Shrewsbury Town FC and donations and raffles.
They were presented with the Telent Charity Shield, an annual award for those making an outstanding contribution to charity, during the annual long service and good conduct medals ceremony for firefighters and staff held at Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn.
Presenting the award was Telent Project Manager Dharminder Thiara, who said: "Charity is a main objective in our lives. You have done a great job to put a smile on little children's faces and represent the fire service in Bulgaria and helping people who need help."
During a visit to Bulgaria last year funded by the EU's Leonardo Staff Exchange Programme, Shropshire volunteers transported and donated two fire engines, uniforms and equipment to the Ruse Fire Service. They gave 200 donated smoke alarms to the orphanges and delighted youngsters with Shrewsbury Town football strips and a collection of soft toys.
Ruse firefighters, acting on behalf of the group, also bought and delivered toys to the youngsters last Christmas.
"What is inspirational and worthy of recognition through the Telent Charity Shield is the coming together of such a diverse range of staff and elected members to work together to support those less fortunate than we are," said Chief Fire Officer Paul Raymond.
Wellington Firefighter Nick Herbert received the High Sheriff Good Citizen Award from High Sheriff Richard Burbidge for his "substantial" contribution to society and "outstanding" efforts, loyalty, caring and hard work.
A school governor, Nick is studying for a youth and community studies degree at Wrexham University while also working with young people as part of his course.
He gives up much of his spare time working with the youth support services in Telford as a mentor to help youngsters get their lives "back on track." He has worked with the youth parliament and works with children who deliberately set fires.
Nick, who raised £5,000 in one London marathon for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust is now in training for a charity cycle ride from London to Brussels.
Presenting Long Service and Good Conduct Medals to 22 recipients, the Lord Lieutenant, Algernon Heber-Percy said: "Thank you for all you have done for the past 20 years for looking after so many people in Shropshire.
Fire Authority Chairman Stuart West, who also went to Bulgaria, presented miniature medals to wives and partners and thanked them for their valuable support which was an important contribution to the brigade.
Photo: Bulgarian orphans in their Shrewsbury Town football strip.
Posted: 1105am, 28.04.11, firstname.lastname@example.org