Banbury firefighters recognised at special awards ceremony held at Blenheim Palace

Four Banbury firefighters were part of a crew recognised for winning ‘Fire Station of the Year’ in Banbury.

By Matt Elofson
Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 4:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 4:36 pm

The firefighters were part of a group of firefighters to receive medals on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen in special event at Blenheim Palace.

Oxfordshire’s Vice Lord Lieutenant attended the prestigious event to present ‘Her Majesty, The Queen’s Long Service and Good Conduct’ medals to nine firefighters, all who have each provided 20 years’ service.

The Lord Lieutenant, Tim Stevenson OBE, also attended, and presented medals to eight firefighters. It was his last official duty as the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire prior to his retirement, after 13 years’ service.

Four of the firefighters recognised at the ceremoney are from the Banbury Fire Station. They are Martin Cowley, Mark O’Connor, Anthony Lampitt and Tom Northcote.

Richard Bowley, an Oxford resident, was presented with a certificate to recognise his 40 years’ service, initially as a firefighter; then following his retirement from operational duties, as a valued member of the service’s Incident Command Team, based at Slade Park Fire Station, Headington.

Rob MacDougall, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, said: “Having had to postpone last year’s ceremony because of the pandemic, I am absolutely delighted that we have now been able to mark and recognise these remarkable achievements. These awards reflect the service’s and public’s appreciation and gratitude for each dedicated fire officer’s devotion to duty.”

Emily Hirons, head of operations at Blenheim Palace, said: “We’re delighted to be able to once again host the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service awards ceremony here at Blenheim Palace. All of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to our incredible firefighters, and it’s an honour to be able to welcome them here to the palace.”

Rob MacDougall, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service’s Chief Fire Officer, and the four Banbury firefighters recognised - Martin Cowley, Mark O’Connor, Anthony Lampitt and Tom Northcote. (photo from Oxfordshire County Council)

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Special recognition went to 14-year-old West Oxfordshire resident Max Ebeling, who received the Chief’s Commendation for 2021.

In the early hours of March 19, 2021, Max was woken by a cracking and popping noise in the corner of his bedroom. On investigation, he discovered the fuse board below his bedroom next to the front door was on fire.

Max acted quickly and alerted his family to the unfolding situation. At this point the smoke detectors had not gone off due to the location of the fire, which was spreading in the ground floor ceiling void and adjacent to the front door. On reaching the first floor landing the smoke detectors sounded the alarm and the family quickly escaped down the stairs past the developing fire, through the back door of the property, where his father dialled 999.

Medals received by firefighters with Oxfordshire Fire & Rescue Service, including four from Banbury Fire Station (Image from Oxfordshire County Council)

Due to Max’s quick and calm actions, he gave the family valuable seconds to escape before the exit route became smoke logged and potentially impassable due to smoke and fire. Although the smoke detectors set off as designed, Max’s quick thinking resulted in a safer, faster exit from the property.

Chief Fire Officer Rob MacDougall added: “Max was an absolute star – his quick thinking and calm actions saved his family from serious injury or worse. Max is a worthy winner of the Chief Fire Officer Commendation."

“This story highlights the importance of having working smoke alarms in your home and checking them regularly.”

West Oxfordshire teenager Max Ebeling receives award from Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Chief Fire Officer Rob MacDougall (Image from Oxfordshire County Council)