A firefighter who readily admits he did not shine at school has been honoured for the way he encourages disillusioned young people to make the most of life.
George Martin joined the fire service on November 13th, 1978, and it was a day that changed his life. Until then, friends and family called him Steve, as they still do, but his new boss chose to use his first name, George, and he took to his new career as if it were second nature.
His OBE honour from the Queen recognises his work with the Prince’s Trust through the Fire and Rescue Service.
Said Mr Martin: “I went to Towneley High School and I wasn’t the brightest of pupils and left without much academic achievement, so in many ways I know and can appreciate how the young people who come to the Prince’s Trust feel. I couldn’t pass exams to save my life.
“When I left school I started working in a mill and I thought about being a fireman because I fancied carrying blondes down ladders. The fire service was the making of me; they showed me how to do things until the penny dropped. The service works with the Prince’s Trust and provides 20% of the programmes that encourages and helps a very targeted group of young people who feel they have no hope and have no support network to assist them.
“We don’t do it in a threatening way, and because of the standing that the fire service has we can do it through the community.”
Mr Martin began his association with the Prince’s Trust after developing interests in fire safety, which included a spell for the life-long Clarets’ fan as an advisor at Ewood Park in Blackburn. He was asked to take on a national liaison role for the fire service after running the Prince’s Trust programme in Lancashire.
His work for the Fire and Rescue Service involves telling other fire services around the country how the Prince’s Trust can and does benefit the community by involving disenfranchised teenagers
“I had no idea about the award,” said Mr Martin. “I’m still a bit stunned, but I am really pleased. It’s fabulous.”
As Steve, Mr Martin, and his family, have long been associated with St Matthew’s Church, and in former times he has also run youth groups.
He and wife of 36 years, Carol, live in Western Avenue, Burnley, and have two sons. James (31) is following his father’s footsteps as a firefighter and Luke (26) is a civil servant.
A fitness enthusiast, he is a member at Crow Wood and he now dedicates much of his spare time to the work of a youth offending team panel.