Steve Darby, an Incident Intelligence Officer for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service was awarded an MBE in the New Year honours list for ‘services to International Aid’.
Steve started his career with the fire service in 1989 and commenced voluntary work for Operation Florian in 2002. Since then he has worked tirelessly with the charity to help communities around the world.
Curious to receive the letter from the Cabinet Office, the popular fire fighter was amazed and delighted to find out he was to be given the award. He says ‘I am very pleased to accept on behalf of all the Operation Florian members who work so hard; it really is a team effort’.
Operation Florian is an International humanitarian charity, set up by British firefighters to save lives overseas, by donating reconditioned fire engines and emergency equipment to the worlds’ poorest regions. They also dispatch training crews to ensure equipment operators are fully trained and ready to do their jobs.
Steve visited the town of Neum in Bosnia in 2002 for his first project for the charity, helping to rebuild the emergency services which were targeted by Balkan forces. He became addicted to the cause when he saw the huge benefits the charity’s efforts were bringing to these communities, and quickly returned the following year to continue his work.
In 2005 Steve returned to Mostar in Bosnia as project manager with the briefing to unify the divided City’s fire service. Since the end of the Balkans war there had been 2 separate fire services working in the City, one being staffed by Catholic firefighters and the other by Muslim firefighters, neither of which would attend fires or rescues in the others community. Following the 8 week project, Steve left the City with a unified fire service with staff being mixed across the 2 fire stations.
Over the next few years he has worked tirelessly helping communities throughout Macedonia, Montenegro and Ecuador. In 2009 Steve even spent his honeymoon helping the city of Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina.
Steve and his wife Ann are so committed to the charity that they requested their wedding guests make donations to the project in Mostar rather than wedding gifts. Having 3 days hard drive, sleeping in service station car parks with bed sheets at the windows in their 4 x 4 vehicle to deliver aid to the City, the Mayor of Mostar gave them a star studded welcome, demonstrating the City’s gratitude by gifting the honeymooning charity workers the Penthouse suite of the best hotel in the City.
Joining the charity as a volunteer, he progressed to the management committee and became a co-director of the charity in 2011. He went on to say ‘I genuinely believe this award is for everyone who has supported Operation Florian, for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and just as importantly for our families who are left holding the fort at home whilst we are away on projects.’
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