July 25, 2023


On Wednesday 12th July 2023, Master Cutler, Dame Julie Kenny DBE DL, hosted the Emergency Service Awards Ceremony at Cutlers’ Hall. The ceremony began with a warm welcome to the attendees including the award winners and nominators. The Master Cutler explained how difficult it had been to choose overall winners for the awards and announced several additional awards for special recognition of outstanding service across the whole of the South Yorkshire region.

The Award Winners

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Individual Winner – Mark Peart

Mark Peart has been an inspiration to all, before joining South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue, Mark was a firefighter with the RAF. Now, he works with the On-Call team and is currently the Watch Manager of Dearne Community Fire Station with a passion for fitness. Just some of his amazing achievements are entering and winning Channel 4’s ‘SAS Who Dares Wins’, numerous endurance events and challenges for charity, and running the London Marathon this year raising over £6,000 for The Firefighters Charity. Mark completed the marathon in 4 hours, not only is this a great achievement, but Mark also decided to complete this in full firefighting personal protective equipment weighing 15kg including full breathing apparatus.

South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Individual Special Recognition – Tom Watkins

Over the last few years, Tom has been an important member of the ICT Team focusing on cyber security and the protection of data and assets. Tom’s dedication to the monitoring and protection of networks has not gone unnoticed with excellent feedback from IBM (the independent Cabinet Office Assessors). Tom has shown passion and desire to make South Yorkshire safer and stronger with security at the forefront of his work, he has also recently received formal recognition from the Chief Fire Officer and Corporate Management Board for his commitment to keeping the service safe and secure.


South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Team Winner – Walk & Talk 999 Team represented by Nick Abbott (Operational Group Manager), Kirsty Thorley (Health & Wellbeing Manager) and Jim Bright & Matt Winslow (Operational Watch Managers)

In 2022, SYFR launched the ‘Walk & Talk 999’ initiative with the group’s main focus to support men’s mental health within the Fire Service and encourage them to reach out. The men’s mental health walking group was founded in South Yorkshire under the signage of the now, award-winning London Team. The national Walk & Talk initiative is supported and recognised by organisations like MIND, The Samaritans, and Women in the Fire Service, to name but a few. The key achievement of the ‘Walk and Talk 999’ team is that men from within the service at every level, rank and role contact them saying that knowing the walk is there when they need it, really makes a difference.


South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Team Special Recognition – Business Fire Safety Team represented by Amy Jenkinson, Steve Massey, Sarah Brown & Callum Pinhorn

In December 2022, following the tragic incident at Grenfell Tower, the Business Fire Safety Team were left with no option but to serve a Prohibition Notice on premises in Sheffield causing a significant impact on many residents. However, from the start the team demonstrated their commitment, creating sessions to provide answers and reassurance for residents and tenants. They also set up a Tactical Coordinating Group (TCG) involving South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield City Council and other partner agencies who would have been affected by the evacuation of the building. The team worked tirelessly to ensure not only the safety of residents has been improved. It has been a very challenging environment, proving their dedication and service to the community should be rewarded as without their expert knowledge, understanding and empathy, the situation could have been very different.

South Yorkshire Police Individual Winner – Police Constable Darren McKenna

Throughout PC Darren McKenna’s career, he has worked in a variety of frontline, uniformed roles within the Sheffield district. He was a trailblazer for the district’s approach to community policing in Page Hall. Darren and his team policed a dispersal order and engaged with the young people in the area, to divert them into youth provision and support. He is an important part of the district’s proactive Fortify Team and remains an enthusiastic, driven and valued team member with a great work ethic and commitment.


South Yorkshire Police Individual Special Recognition – Detective Constable Rob Zarchi

DC Rob Zarchi has been within Doncaster CID for just 3 years, despite carrying a high workload, Rob is always willing to support all his colleagues, senior, or junior.  His patience and knowledge make him an excellent mentor, coach and leader of people. He has coordinated a recent policing operation to reduce outstanding suspects for violent crime, liaising with numerous other force resources to carry out arrests and searches all contributing to making Doncaster a safer place to live. DC Rob Zarchi deserves recognition for his outstanding efforts and contribution towards Doncaster police, he is a great asset to the district and SYP.


South Yorkshire Police Individual Special Recognition – Inspector Alex Murthi

Inspector Alex Murthi joined South Yorkshire Police in 1994 and spent the first 10 years of her service as an operational constable working across Sheffield at a variety of stations. Various promotions saw Alex progress through SYP demonstrating her outstanding abilities in a variety of roles. Due to her performance, Alex was selected and asked to train as a force Security Co-ordinator (SecCo). SYP was asked by the College of Policing to design and pilot courses based on the quality of the training delivered under Alex’s direction and leadership, this now shapes the national landscape of public order training. This is just one of Alex’s key achievements throughout her successful career.

South Yorkshire Police Team Special Recognition – TravelSafe Team led by Police Sargeant Karen Holmes

By effectively investigating and tackling crime & anti-social behaviour, the TravelSafe partnership aims to keep those using and working on public transport safe, building trust and confidence with partners, bringing others on board and regularly working from partner sites to increase visibility and accessibility. Just some of the achievements are persuading all partners to sign up to and use the Digital Asset Management System to streamline CCTV and digital evidence sharing; working with the task force for reanimation of Sheffield interchange, and creating community safe spaces.  Positive feedback has been received from various quarters including appreciation letters from partners, positive media coverage of operations and support from local councillors and MPs when addressing transport-related community issues.


South Yorkshire Police Team Special Recognition – Rotherham North Neighbourhood Policing Team represented by Police Sergeants – Ben Szymczyk & Craig Cooke, Police Constables – Nic Hemmingway, Claire Jennings, Steve Nile & Ben Partridge, Police Community Support Officers – David Jackson & Neil Entwistle

Swinton Library and the Civic Centre were identified as seeing an increase in anti-social behaviour and damage-related offences. The Team established multi-agency meetings at the site and a detailed targeted intervention plan was created, with actions tasked out to partners and tracked for accountability. This resulted in The Team holding ‘Pop In Police Stations’ at the library in addition to hi-vis and plain clothes patrols by The Team and the location put on Rotherham Council’s out-of-hours services. The Team’s problem-solving approach strengthens the links between the partner agencies and allows them to work more closely together than ever before as they have seen the real difference it can make to the community.

South Yorkshire Police Team Winner & Recipient of the Police Cup – Police Constables Natalie Butler & Alexander Eyre

Both Police Constables demonstrated bravery, professionalism and respect in safely evacuating the house and neighbouring property. They both placed themselves at great risk to save two vulnerable individuals, showing their calmness and epitomising the highest values of the police service.


Chief Fire Officer, Chris Kirby, thanked the Master Cutler & the Company for the invitation to the awards and to showcase SYFR’s hard work. The nominees covered a diverse range of roles, from cyber security to safety and wellbeing, highlighting the importance of everyone involved in the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue team.

Chief Constable, Lauren Poultney, explained it was a pleasure to hear about all of the winners including those who have recently joined the force and those who have worked within SYP for many years. She also thanked the Company for their hospitality and for continuing to support the strong relationship with the South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Team as well as the Police.

A remarkable afternoon showcasing just some of the dedication and commitment within SYFR & SYP, congratulations to all of those who were nominated for awards.


All photographs courtesy of Andrew Cox Photographer