Control Room Awards celebrate inspirational unsung heroes

(From L to R) David Brown, Emergency Services Times; Helen Collier, Avon and Somerset Police, winner of the Call Taker of the Year Award; Helen Fospero, Awards Presenter.

The APD Control Room Awards 2020 have honoured the life-saving, behind-the-scenes work of control room stars who go above and beyond in their roles every day.

The awards, run by APD Communications, are the only accolades of their kind to recognise the unsung heroes of the control room community in the UK and Ireland.

The 2020 ceremony was held at Jury’s Inn, Hinckley Island, Leicestershire, on 5 March, and heard some truly inspirational stories of professionalism, dedication, selflessness and bravery. They included:

Dispatch Supervisor Martin Lonsdale, of North East Ambulance Service, who showed incredible bravery in rescuing three people from an overturned, burning vehicle, moments before it exploded.

Helen Collier, of Avon and Somerset Police, who displayed great professionalism to keep a distressed woman on the phone long enough for officers to get to the caller’s address and cut her down as she tried to hang herself.

Ashleigh Spriggs, of Leicestershire Fire and Rescue, who was the duty watch officer during the Leicester City helicopter crash and received commendations from the club and the fire service for his handling of the tragic and distressing incident. He was also recognised for championing the work of control room employees in all he does.

Hannah Bird, of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, who, despite her relative inexperience, acted quickly and decisively to help save the life of someone who had fallen overboard.

Now in their third year, the 2020 awards attracted almost 400 nominations from more than 80 organisations committed to supporting the public and safeguarding society.

APD Communications 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, and stages the awards to ensure outstanding work in control rooms is recognised and rewarded publicly.

Mike Isherwood, Managing Director, APD, said, “Selecting the winners from so many outstanding nominations was an incredibly difficult job. Reading the entries I found myself absolutely gripped from beginning to end by the amazing stories of selfless public service. We created these awards to shine a spotlight on the awesome work of people and teams in control rooms and to tell their stories.

“The control room community is inherently modest but, as a result of these awards, they are sharing their experiences. It’s clear they now have the confidence and belief to say ‘we deserve recognition because we do a great job’. We’re proud that, working with so many great partners, we’re able to provide the platform for richly-deserved acknowledgement.”

The full list of APD Control Room Awards 2020 winners is:

Control Room Call Taker of the Year, sponsored by the Emergency Services Times

Winner: Helen Collier, Avon and Somerset Police

Control Room Dispatcher of the Year, sponsored by Hexagon

Winner: Carmel Sharkey, National Ambulance Service of Ireland

Leader of the Year, sponsored by Northgate Public Services

Winner: Carly Pointon, Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service

The Award for Services to the Public, sponsored by telent

Winner: Paula Holden, Merseyside Police

Special Recognition Award for Bravery and Courage, sponsored by UKCloud

Winner: Martin Lonsdale, North East Ambulance Service

Team of the Year, sponsored by Red Box

Winner: South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Control Team

Young Achiever of the Year, sponsored by West Pier

Winner: Hannah Bird, Maritime and Coastguard Agency

The Community Champion Award, sponsored by RapidSOS

Winner: Jo Sampson, Avon and Somerset Police

John Gilhooly Unsung Hero Award

Winner: Rich Weaver, Devon and Cornwall Police

The Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by BAPCO Annual Conference & Exhibition 2020

Winner: Lorraine Smith, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

Control Room Ambassador of the Year

Winner: Ashleigh Spriggs, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue

Leading tech company telent Technology Services was once more the Platinum Partner of the awards and also sponsored the Award for Services to the Public.

Barry Zielinski, telent’s Operations and Services Director, said, “It’s a pleasure to play our part in these awards, which are a brilliant showcase for the fantastic work of control room teams. They are highly skilled, utterly professional and totally dedicated. The awards also highlight how proactive and committed they are to continuous individual and collective improvement, in order to continually strive to provide an even better service to the public.”