A "highly committed" volunteer from Watford dedicated to protecting residents from fires has been presented with an award for his hard work. 

Lee Gathard, a community protection volunteer, was named County Volunteer of the Year and District Volunteer of the Year for Watford and Three Rivers at the fifth ceremony held to recognise community protection volunteers.

The awards are given to celebrate the successes of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) and Trading Standards volunteers, and the staff who work with them. The ceremony was held at Longfield Centre in Stevenage.

Mr Gathard, who has been a fire volunteer for more than five years was described by colleagues as a popular and highly committed member of the team.

It’s the second time he has won the Watford and Three Rivers District award and the first time anyone from the district has won the Volunteer of the Year prize.

The Watford and Three Rivers team also took home the District Team of the Year award.
Mr Gathard, 26, said: "I’m delighted to have won the award.

"The work is so varied and rewarding - tasks range from visiting people’s homes and carrying out fire safety checks to joining the police on anti-arson patrols.

"Volunteering in the fire service provides a real change to my day job as a support worker in a care home and I enjoy the balance. If you are thinking about volunteering, I would really encourage you to try it out as I’m sure you’ll love it if you give it a chance."

The volunteers were presented with their awards by chief fire officer and director of community protection Roy Wilsher.

Mr Wilsher said: "These awards are the service’s way of recognising and thanking committed volunteers for their fantastic work in the community. All of our volunteers give up their free time to protecting Hertfordshire residents from dangers such as fire, counterfeit goods and rogue traders. We are extremely proud and grateful to them, and the staff who work with them, for everything that they do."

Richard Thake, cabinet member with responsibility for community safety, said: "Last year our volunteers gave around 9,000 hours of their time to help spread important safety information in their communities. These awards are the perfect way of celebrating them, and showing them just how much their hard work is appreciated by us all."

For more information on volunteering visit: www.hertsdirect.org/volunteering