Watch Manager Mark Evans, officer in charge of Green Watch at Stratton fire station, has been named in the Queen’s Birthday honours list in recognition of his work with disadvantaged young people and the community.
Mark is the lead instructor for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Salamander scheme in Swindon.
He has been integral to the development of courses for Swindon Young Carers and Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group and, more recently, working with Uplands School, the Uplands Educational Trust College and Crowdys Hill School, who provide education and learning opportunities for young people with complex learning needs.
Amongst the other regular clients of Salamander in Swindon are Jobcentre Plus and Families First at Swindon Borough Council.
Mark said: “To receive a letter from the Cabinet Office, saying I was to be appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire, was a massive surprise. While I am immensely proud, I am also embarrassed as the Salamander programme is delivered by so many people from both the Fire and Rescue Service and other agencies. I hope that, by accepting this honour, I can do so on behalf of every single person who has either helped to run the courses or has benefited from attending.
“Over each course that we run, we see the young people grow as they learn new skills and push their own boundaries. That is so rewarding for every instructor, as is seeing the faces of the families and friends when we do the pass-out parade on the last day. I am so grateful to everyone who has supported Salamander over the years, and I am sure we will continue to go from strength to strength.”
Mark joined Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service in 2006, having previously worked in Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service and also West Midlands Fire Service.
He was appointed Watch Manager at Stratton in 2009 and has been involved with Salamander since its inception in 2007, coordinating over 54 courses since that time.
Chief Fire Officer Darran Gunter said: “I am absolutely delighted that Mark has been recognised in this way. He thoroughly deserves this honour and I am sure that the many individuals and families who have benefited from his dedication and enthusiasm would agree.
“Schemes such as Salamander support young people in so many ways, from encouraging teamwork to developing self-esteem and communication skills. Many of the people that we help find the course extremely challenging, and it is Mark’s steady leadership and calm management that gives both instructors and participants the confidence to engage fully and gain maximum benefit.”