COUNTY firefighters have been given the nod for three fundraising charity awards after collecting more cash per firefighter than any brigade in the country.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has been nominated for the Spirit of Fire Awards after raising money through fundraisers including a 450-mile charity bike ride.

Kidlington-based training resources officer Clive Durbin was part of a 14-strong team that raised more than £14,000 after cycling from Oxford to German twin city Bonn in July. The group is now up for Team of the Year.

Oxford Mail:

Clive Durbin who helped organise the event

The 61-year-old, of Wheatley, said it was an honour to be nominated for the awards which were held in high esteem by firefighters.

He said: “When you do these events the prime aim is to raise money for the fire charity. Every firefighter in the country supports the charity. It is quite dear to their hearts. The motivator is to support the charity.

“But the icing on the cake is to have your work recognised. We are immensely proud of that. The Spirit of Fire awards is a flagship event.”

Ten members of the team who tackled the bike ride are expected to attend the awards ceremony in London in May.

Many of those taking part in the charity ride were doing so in memory of retained firefighter Joe Wilkins who died cycling when he was hit by a car in May 2012.

As well as the nomination for Team of the Year, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service is also up for Fire Service of the Year.

Mr Durbin added: “For a relatively small brigade we punch way above our weight. To be shortlisted as an organisation is again something we can be proud of.”

On the Spirit of Fire Awards website the nomination reads: “Despite having a mostly on-call retained staff, Oxfordshire has managed to bring in over £1 million for the Fire Fighters Charity, plus almost equivalent for other good causes and charities, beating many larger brigades.

“In the past four years, Oxfordshire has been in the number-one spot for per-capita fundraising three times, raising more per-head of workforce than any other brigade in the UK.”

Oxfordshire County Council has also been nominated for Corporate Supporter of the Year.

The nomination entry reads: “The county council has been a huge supporter of The Fire Fighters Charity, with the chief executive, Joanna Simons, often attending charity events in order to raise profile and funds.”

The service has raised more than £1m for the Fire Fighters Charity in the last 10 years.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: ”These awards are a fantastic opportunity to proudly showcase the very best of our fire and rescue service and also to show our admiration for those who have battled in the face of adversity, or performed a heroic act of bravery and courage.”

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