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GREATER Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) has welcomed ten new volunteer chaplains to the Service as part of its National Volunteering Week celebrations.
The volunteers, one for each borough of Greater Manchester, will provide a vital service for firefighters and staff across GMFRS.
The Salvation Army’s, Major Nigel Tansley, is the Service’s lead chaplain - a role he has volunteered for since 2009.
He said: “I’ve had the privilege of working with GMFRS since 2003 when I started to co-ordinate the Salvation Army’s Emergency Response unit, which provides welfare for firefighters at incidents.
“A few years later I took over the role of chaplain for the Service. Now we’ve recruited ten more chaplains and I’m delighted to say that the Service has the fantastic chaplaincy it deserves.
“Those who are part of GMFRS deserve the best and I believe the ten chaplains we have recruited are the best. They will offer real value for what I believe is the best fire service in the country.”
GMFRS chaplains can come from any faith or from a secular background. They provide a vital service by listening to staff, who would prefer talk to someone independent from the Service.
Andrew Robinson is one of the new chaplains who were welcomed to the Service at the start of National Volunteering Week.
Andrew had a career in the fire service which lasted 37 years. He served briefly in Northern Ireland before joining GMFRS in 1978 after a three-year career break to qualify as a minister.
Since leaving GMFRS as a Watch Manager, Andrew has taken up a ministry at the Church of the Nazarene in Oldham and sits on the management board of Oldham Town Centre’s chaplaincy.
He said: “For me as a chaplain you are there to be part of the support system for all the staff in the organisation you serve.
“By doing that it enables you to make a positive contribution to people’s lives and share the concerns, problems and joys of staff in the fire service be they uniformed or non-uniformed.”
GMFRS’s new County Fire Officer, Peter O’Reilly, added: “Our volunteer section has grown in a way that none of us could imagine and now it serves society in a way which none of us could imagine either.
“None of this could have been achieved without the support of our entire organisation from the Fire Authority to staff across GMFRS.
“I’ve been at incidents where Nigel has played a key role and helped our firefighters come to terms with severe loss and there is no more severe loss than when we lost Firefighter Stephen Hunt on Oldham Street in 2013.
“The chaplains have a key role to help us look after our staff in the best possible way we can whether that is at operational incidents, in the workplace or with circumstances of their own.”