A firefighter has been awarded the Queen's Fire Service Medal in recognition for his role in helping to develop a life-saving partnership between the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and blood cancer charity, Anthony Nolan.
Area Manager Andy Watt was presented with the prestigious medal by Prince Charles earlier this month after being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list last year.
Andy was joined at Buckingham Palace by wife Jillian and their two sons, Kerr, 15, and Ellis, 8.
“It was an incredible and very special experience, especially being able to share the day with my wife and two boys,” a delighted Andy said.
“I was quite nervous on the day but as soon as you arrive at the Palace, the staff there immediately made you feel at ease.
“Prince Charles was fantastic, it was a fairly short conversation. He asked me about my length of service.”
The 45-year-old has chaired the ground-breaking and hugely successful SFRS / Anthony Nolan partnership since 2014, which recently recruited its landmark 10,000th potential stem cell donor to the charity’s register. Twenty eight of those people have gone on to make life-saving stem cell donations and give someone with blood cancer a second chance of life.
Andy added: “Personally, the award means the world to me, but more than anything this is a fantastic reflection of the lifesaving work of the SFRS, our amazing volunteers and the charity Anthony Nolan.”
Originally from Argyll and Bute but now living with his family in Stepps, Andy first joined the fire service as a retained firefighter in Inveraray in 1992.
He moved to Glasgow in 1998 to begin his career as a wholetime firefighter and has since worked in various roles in Dumbarton, Coatbridge, Clydebank, Lanark, Hamilton, East Kilbride, and is now based at the SFRS HQ in Cambuslang.
Anthony Nolan uses its register to match potential stem cell donors to blood cancer patients in desperate need of a stem cell transplant.
The partnership with SFRS was established in 2009 by then Area Commander Ally Boyle. Ally had previously been diagnosed with blood cancer and was forced to retire from SFRS in 2014 due to ill-health.
“It was Ally’s vision that started this partnership, and it was because of Ally that I got involved,” Andy said.
“Two key parts of the ethos of the SFRS are saving and improving lives and providing a positive role model to others. Working in partnership with Anthony Nolan has allowed us to do just that.
“The partnership is growing year on year across the country, and I don’t think we’ll see its full potential for another couple of years. There’s a lot of hard work been done to get us to where we are but it’s been an incredible nine years.”
Anthony Nolan’s Chief Executive Henny Braund said: “The partnership between the SFRS and Anthony Nolan has already had a lifesaving impact, and we know that the 10,000 donors recruited so far could go on to give even more people a second chance of life in the future.
“This partnership would not be possible without Andy Watt and his team of volunteers; the commitment and passion they show every day is truly remarkable. We wish Andy a hearty congratulations on being recognised with this well-deserved award.”
Main image copyright of British Ceremonial Arts Ltd and strictly not for re-publication