Community hero is honoured by Queen

A retired firefighter has been given the Queen’s Fire Service Medal for outstanding achievement in education and 

Stephen Bates from Bearsden is not only a charity fundraiser, who has helped make £40,000 for children with special needs, he also helped draw up an education programme to keep youngsters out of trouble.

His initiative – researched and begun entirely in his own time – was rolled out across the whole of the Glasgow area.

He was one of three Scottish firefighters to be honoured.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “While working as a firefighter in the Summerston area of Glasgow, Stephen saw first-hand the high levels of anti-social behaviour, which included young people attacking fire crews when they were trying to do their job, setting fires and opening fire hydrants.

“He took it upon himself to research child psychology in his own time to better understand their perspective, and recognised the value in actively engaging with them.

“Stephen and his crew established relations with secondary schools in the area and he developed a programme for pupils.

“This new programme involved students learning and working together with the fire crew, and resulted in a sense of belonging and strong relationships between the crew and young people.

“These young people then worked with the community to spread a positive message that it was wrong to behave in the way previously described, thereby reducing anti-social behaviour. The programme’s success has been outstanding, and it is now being rolled out across the Glasgow area.

“Stephen is also an active charity fundraiser, helping to raise more than £40,000 for children with special needs. He set up a charity committee within the station to sustain the fundraising, and he and the crew from a nearby station organise and run the annual Christmas party for the children at the local Kelburn School.”

Chief Officer Alasdair Hay congratulated the three. He said: “As we all know, many of our staff regularly go above and beyond what is expected of them and awards of this calibre only go to show that this dedication is recognised by peers and, indeed, local communities.”