Firefighter honoured after 45 years service

Firefighter honoured after 45 years service

Jerry Leonard followed in the footsteps of his firefighting family

A fire commander who has dedicated 45 years to keeping the public safe has been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

Jerry Leonard, group manager of Winchester and Test Valley joined the service aged 17 following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather.

Between them the trio - Jerry, Jim and George Leonard - notched up more than 100 years in the fire service but that is not where the family connection ends.

Jerry’s wife Ingrid is also a group manager in Control – she has worked for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service for 27 years.

Jerry said: 

“I am incredibly delighted to have been chosen to receive a Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

 “I am humbled to received such a honour for a job I love and have enjoyed every minute of the past 45 years.

“I never considered any other career, I joined up as soon as I could and have been an operational firefighter all of my career.

“I never would have imagined that I would have had the opportunities that I have had when I started the job.”

The 62-year-old grandad started his career as an on-call firefighter in 1974 – the year they lowered the minimum age of a firefighter from 18 to 17.

Among his many achievements Jerry was a founder member of UK Search and Rescue (UKSAR) which has become UK International Search and Rescue (UK ISAR).

He has been deployed to disasters across the globe including Armenia, Turkey, Indonesia and Nepal.

As well as being a national Urban Search and Rescue tactical advisor he is also a National Hazardous Material Advisor and a National Inter-agency Liaison Officer. 

He is also Hampshire's lead in Extrication and Trauma and has been involved UK Rescue Organisation events.

The dad-of-two from Crondall, north Hampshire, has attended thousands of calls across Hampshire working out of various stations including Lymington, Redbridge, Andover, St Mary’s, Rushmoor, Basingstoke and Eastleigh HQ.

His extensive career has also included working in training and equipment.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman Chris Carter said: 

“This award recognises a life spent in the service of others.

“It is hard to imagine in 45 years how many lives he has saved and how many people he has helped.

Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin said: 

“Hampshire firefighters occupy a special place in the heart of the community because of people like Jerry.

“I am delighted that he has been given this award to recognise the contribution he has made to making the communities of Hampshire, and beyond, safer.”

Jerry at community event
Jerry at community event