His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge introduced The Fire Fighters Charity’s virtual Spirit of Fire Awards via a recorded video message on 4th November.

Opening the ceremony – which recognises the support given to the Charity by fire and rescue service personnel across the UK – The Duke spoke of the challenges faced by fire service personnel in the wake of COVID-19, reiterating why it’s so important that they know where to turn when they need support themselves.

The Duke also announced the winner of the evening’s first award– the Special Recognition Award for Excellence in The Field of Mental Health – which was awarded to Shilla Patel, Inclusion Manager at London Fire Brigade. Shilla launched United Minds, the Brigade’s first mental health support network, in March 2019 to break stigma and help staff to access support when they need it.

A further 13 awards were announced by a host of famous faces over the course of the evening, including: Brian May CBE, Michael Sheen OBE, Dame Julie Walters DBE, Clare Balding OBE, Simon Day, Reverend Kate Botley, Dame Katherine Grainger DBE, Jason Watkins, Adam Hills, Susanna Reid, Les Ferdinand MBE, Maddie Moate and Greg Foot.

The Spirit of Fire Awards recognise the fundraising and awareness-raising achievements of members of the UK’s fire services community in their support of The Fire Fighters Charity, as well as the courage of the Charity’s beneficiaries in the face of personal adversity.

Usually held in London, with a reception at No.10 Downing Street, the coronavirus pandemic meant that the Charity took the awards ceremony online in 2020 for the first time.

The Fire Fighters Charity Chief Executive, Dr Jill Tolfrey, said of the ceremony: “We were honoured to once again welcome His Royal Highness The Duke of Cambridge to The Fire Fighters Charity, this time to open the Spirit of Fire Awards and to announce the winner of our Special Recognition Award for Excellence in the Field of Mental Health.

“Spirit of Fire is always a special occasion and this year, as we were unable to celebrate in person, I hope that marking the achievements of our incredible and very deserving supporters online – with the help of The Duke and our celebrity guests – provided a ray of sunshine for the fire services community at this difficult time. On behalf of the whole Charity, my congratulations and immense gratitude go to all our nominees and winners.”