Norwich firefighters honoured at awards ceremony

A Norwich student whose life was saved by quick-thinking fire-fighters presented her heroes with a Chief Fire Officer's Certificate of Commendation at an awards evening.

Norwich's Green Watch rescued Layla Skalli, then 19, from a burning flat in Magdalen Street, Norwich in April last year.

Miss Skalli suffered 80 pc burns in the fire and was only given a 1pc chance of survival by doctors at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Her landlord, Michael Billings, 55, of Barsham, near Beccles, Suffolk, was jailed for 30 months on May 7 at Norwich Crown Court, when he admitted 14 breaches of health and fire safety laws. That was later cut to 21 months after he agreed to pay Miss Skalli �20,000 in compensation.

Miss Skalli, a catering student, was too upset to talk or be photographed at the Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service's awards evening at Dunston Hall, near Norwich, on Friday<19>.

But Clive Wells, Green Watch manager, said that getting the award was the 'ultimate achievement'.

He said the Greenwatch team had used a ladder to break through the bedsit window to rescue Miss Skalli who was unconscious.

Most Read

He said: 'We could tell she had been badly burned. I could feel the heat coming off her through my fire resistant tunic.

'But we were delighted that she pulled through. In a 30-year career something like that only happens once.

'The watch has kept in touch with her since and she has come to the fire station. Some of the younger crew members have also kept in touch with her over on the internet.

'For us to get the certificate of commendation is the ultimate achievement. It shows that you have been recognised for doing your job.'

As reported, Miss Skalli, now 20, last week launched a �2m civil claim against Mr Billings at London's High Court.

The awards evening was also a chance for other fire-fighters to be acclaimed for their bravery and skill.

Jonathan Rayner, from Aylsham, received the Chief Fire Officer's Letter of Commendation while the Community Partnership Award went to the casualty reduction department and Ian Temperton at Norfolk County Council for its ongoing commitment to driving down deaths and injuries on the county's roads.

Cadet of the Year was Kurtis Whiting from Long Stratton and the Norfolk Fire Service Medal was awarded to Geoffrey Lowe, Alan Prior and Mark Hill.

Meanwhile, Forty Years Service Awards were handed to William Cox, Christine Ferris and Roger Richardson. Long Service and Good Conduct Medals went to Stephen Bartram, David Farr, Peter Sumner, Mark Waterfield and Deborah Whitby, Long Service Certificates to Patricia Bond, Terence Smith and Doreen Parker and Working in Partnership Awards to Julie Church and Sharon Thorndyke.

Nigel Williams, Chief Fire Officer for Norfolk, said the awards evening was a chance to officially recognise achievement within its own ranks and beyond.

He said: 'Since joining Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service this summer I have been hugely impressed by the commitment and dedication of staff. They continue to deliver to a high standard, making sure our communities receive a consistently high quality fire and rescue service. A number will be honoured at our annual awards; some for long and dedicated service, others for individual excellence. They should all be justifiably proud.'

<t> Do you know an unsung hero in Norwich? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email