Published 16 May 2023

Medal of Honour awarded for outstanding support to Ukraine Firefighters

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The Medal of Honour was presented to Claire Hoyland (The National Fire Chiefs Council, previously of FIRE AID) and Oksana Romanukha (Impact NGO) as thanks for the integral role they have played in the delivery of essential fire and rescue equipment to Ukraine since the conflict began.

The Medal is the highest recognition for those who have provided outstanding support and service to the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.

The presentations were made following a meeting as representatives from NFCC, the Home Office, Fire Aid. Fire Industry Association. National Police Coordination Centre and Impact NGO met with the Head of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine; General Kruk and General Andrzej Bartkowiak Chief Commandant of the State Fire Service of Poland.

Phil Garrigan, Vice Chair of NFCC and Chief Fire Officer of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service was presented with a coin from General Kruk. The coin is symbol of friendship and mutual respect between the two fire chiefs.

Claire said: “I am completely shocked and humbled by the presentation of this medal, it was a very emotional moment where I was holding back tears.

“The realities of what Ukrainian firefighters face every day to protect their communities is heart breaking.

“Just one day after our meeting with General Kruk six firefighters were shot whilst on duty in eastern Ukraine. This is a sobering reminder of the danger they continue to face.
“I want to dedicate this medal to these six brave firefighters and the 67 other firefighters who have tragically died during this war.”

Phil Garrigan commented: “I am very proud of the response from across the fire sector, a true collaborative endeavour which has provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine in their time of greatest need.

“The Medal of Honour for Claire and Oksana is richly deserved; they have both been fundamental in securing this outcome. The issuing of the medals to Claire and Oksana is a testament to the gratitude and appreciation Ukraine have for this work and strengthens further the relationships we have forged in support of our fire and rescue service colleagues.”

Claire’s previous role at FIRE AID saw her working closely with colleagues from NFCC and the Home Office to send multiple convoys of vehicles and equipment into Poland for onward donation to Ukraine and was the key contact between the UK and Ukraine throughout this time.

Oksana is the founder of the Ukrainian charity, Impact NGO. She has been the key contact for the UK team into Ukraine, providing essential information on what equipment is needed and ensuring the equipment can safely pass from Poland into Ukraine and arranging key meetings between UK and Ukrainian officials.