Awards honour control room heroes for selfless public service during the pandemic

Heroes of emergency services control rooms have been honoured for their vital work serving the public during a year unlike any other. The APD Control Room Awards 2021 recognise the selfless and unstinting efforts of control room individuals and teams who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect the public when they are most in need.

The awards, run by APD Communications, are the only accolades of their kind to celebrate the unsung heroes in control rooms across the UK and Ireland.

The 2021 ceremony was held as on online event, due to COVID-19 restrictions, and highlighted remarkable stories of professionalism, dedication and achievement during what has been an extraordinarily challenging year. These included:

Caitlin Brumby, of G4S in partnership with Lincolnshire Police, who became a Call Taker to give something back after she was involved in an horrific road traffic accident, in which two of her close friends died and she suffered life-changing injuries.

Natalie Harman, of Kent Police, who acted quickly to prevent two young women being sexually assaulted by two men who had earlier committed a similar crime, and then helped to ensure the suspects were arrested after they fled the scene.

Beth Watson, who was appointed Team Leader at North East Ambulance Service in March 2020, at the start of the first national lockdown, when both 999 and 111 calls more than doubled. Beth rose to the challenge and quickly established herself as one of the service’s most reliable and high-performing leaders.

Ben Hawkins, of East of England Ambulance Service, who has used his own struggles with mental health to raise awareness about the issues and help others.

Now in their fourth year, the 2021 awards attracted entries from almost 100 organisations across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Almost 500 control room employees have already received pin badges of honour after being nominated as an individual or part of a team.

APD develops critical, life-saving software used by the police and other emergency services organisations across the UK, as well as transport and aviation operations nationally and internationally. The company stages the Control Room Awards annually to ensure outstanding work in control rooms is recognised and publicly rewarded.

Rhiannon Beeson, APD Director of Control Room, said, “This year’s awards have again showcased amazing examples of resilience and dedication to serving and protecting the public, during a year when control rooms were faced with unprecedented challenges and pressures.

“The response of the control room community to the pandemic has brought to the fore the absolutely critical role these unsung heroes of the emergency services perform under such intense pressures.

“The nominations and winning entries have highlighted so many great initiatives that will have a legacy beyond Covid, as we gradually return to normality.”

Leading technology and critical digital infrastructure specialist, Telent, is once more the Platinum Partner of the awards and also sponsored the Young Achiever of the Year Award.

Shani Latif, Telent’s Sales Director, said, “It’s always an honour to support these awards, which highlight the incredible work of our dedicated and highly professional control room heroes. The amazing stories these awards bring forward are truly inspirational, humbling and so deserving of recognition.”

The full list of APD Control Room Awards 2021 winners is:

Award for Services to the Public, sponsored by Mark Allen Group

Winner: Jen Dalton, Leicestershire Police

Control Room Call Taker of the Year, sponsored by RapidSOS

Winner: Hannah Shrimpton, North East Ambulance Service

Control Room Dispatcher of the Year

Winner: Natalie Harman, Kent Police

Young Achiever of the Year, sponsored by Telent

Winner: Ben Hawkins, East of England Ambulance Service

Community Champion, sponsored by Red Box

Winner: Edward Doherty, National Ambulance Service of Ireland

Leader of the Year

Winner: Beth Watson, North East Ambulance Service

Team of the Year, sponsored by Emergency Services Times

Winner: Digital Contact Team, Metropolitan Police

Special Recognition Award for Bravery and Courage, sponsored by UK Cloud

Winner: Caitlyn Brumby, G4S in partnership with Lincolnshire Police

Control Room Ambassador of the Year

Winner: Colleen Whelan, National Ambulance Service of Ireland

The John Gilhooly Unsung Hero Award

Winner: Andy Taylor, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service

Lifetime Achievement, sponsored by Embrace Child Victims of Crime

Winner: Keith Diamond, London Fire Brigade