A RETAINED firefighter and longshoreman on Shanklin beach has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours List.
Neil Cole, 59, has been awarded the medal for his long service to his community. He has served as a retained firefighter with the Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service for more than 34 years.
Just last year, Mr Cole was named the IW Emergency Services Person of the Year and Local Hero 2011 in IW Radio’s local heroes awards.
In the citation for the honour, Mr Cole’s role as longshoreman was also recognised.
He provided first-aid training, beach cleaning and safety services as part of a family commitment to residents and visitors to the Isle of Wight.
The citation also praises Mr Cole’s work as a retained firefighter serving the wider community and acting as a mentor to many young firefighters who have benefited from his experience.
The citation says: "He gives of his time generously and is unstinting in his drive to improve the local community and to actively promote the role of the community citizen.
"His devotion to the local community has more recently seen him take on the volunteer role as a caretaker of community amenities in Shanklin including the maintenance of local public conveniences to ensure their availability to local communities and residents.
"He has over many years led a range of charitable events for a range of both local and national charities.
"It was in recognition of his devotion to local civic duty that he was recently awarded the IW Emergency Services Person of the ear and Local Hero 2011."