HEROES who have dedicated decades of their lives to the fire service have been honoured with medals.

A ceremony at Blenheim Palace saw Oxfordshire’s Lord Lieutenant honour 16 firefighters in the county, who have each served 20 years.

Distinguished certificates were also bestowed upon station manager Pat Rosum, for 45 years' service, watch manager Charles Williams, for 40 years, and Christine Barefield, for 30.

Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service's chief fire officer, Simon Furlong, said: "It is only right that we should acknowledge and appropriately recognise long service achievements.

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"These awards indicate the high esteem in which the recipients are held by the authorities and the public and expresses our gratitude for their honourable service and devotion to duty.

"There were 435 years' total service in the room, collectively an incredible amount of experience, commitment, bravery and endurance."

The ceremony took place last Wednesday, and those honoured were presented with Her Majesty The Queen’s Long Service and Good Conduct medals.

It was part of Oxfordshire County Council's annual achievement evening, especially for employees serving in its community safety teams and the fire and rescue service.

Special recognition went to Michelle Peacock, based at Thames Valley Fire Control Service in Calcot, who received the chief’s Commendation of the Year.

On January 5 the control operator took a call from a distressed woman reporting a blaze in Banbury.

She rapidly mobilised a response team and repeatedly reassured the caller, helping her to remain calm, while briefing the crews to ensure they were prepared for the situation.

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Mr Furlong said her swift actions 'undoubtedly saved a life.'

He added: "The most impressive thing through the entire call was Michelle's compassion, reassurance and professionalism.

"She is a well valued member of the Thames Valley Fire Control Service."

Didcot-based firefighter Daniel Preston, and Mick Dunn from Kidlington, were recipients of the chief’s Fundraiser of the Year award.

Mr Preston's newborn son Henry was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, requiring significant treatment at the John Radcliffe Hospital and Great Ormond Street hospitals.

A charity called Max's Foundation helped the family to cope with the condition, and Mr Preston and his colleagues have now raised more than £9,000 for the charity.

Blenheim Palace’s operations director, Heather Carter, said the landmark was 'incredibly humbled' to host the ceremony.

Didcot was named Oxfordshire Fire Station of the Year.