Emergency Services Staff honoured in Queens Birthday Honours List

Steve Wheaton and Aghia Pal Singh (Credit: West Midlands Ambulance Service/West Midlands Fire Service)

An Assistant Chief Ambulance Officer from West Midlands Ambulance Service and an IT engineer with West Midlands Fire Service have been recognised in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List.

Steve Wheaton, Resilience and Specialist Operations Director and one of the Trust’s Assistant Chief Ambulance Officers, has been awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Medal, recognising his dedication and distinguished service to the ambulance sector which carries the same level of Royal recognition as other members of the emergency services.

Steve found his passion with the ambulance service at the tender age of ten when he became a cadet with a local volunteer ambulance service. In 1991, he went on to become a cadet with London Ambulance Service where he spent ten years progressing to become a registered Paramedic. In 2001 Steve obtained a promotion to Duty Officer at the, then Essex Ambulance Service before moving up the ranks to Station Officer, Divisional Commander and the Head of Emergency Planning.

In 2008, Steve made the move to West Midlands Ambulance Service to head up and expand the Trust’s Emergency Preparedness and Specialist Operations team where he remains today. 2013 saw Steve seconded to the role of Deputy Senior Responsible Officer at the Home Office where he was responsible for rolling out the national Joint Emergency Service Interoperability Programme across all emergency services in England. West Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Marsh, said:

"I have known Steve for 15 years and, in that time, I have watched him progress and flourish within the ambulance service to become a knowledgeable and well-respected individual in his field.

"I am incredibly proud that Steve has been recognised in this way and would like to thank him for his tremendous service and for the thousands of patients he has helped along the way."

Steve, aged 44, lives in the West Midlands with his wife Suzie and has three children; Liam, Chloe and Thomas. Speaking about his award, Steve, said:

“I am immensely proud and humbled to receive this award. It is a truly great privilege to be recognised with a Queen’s Ambulance Medal, and it took some time for the news to sink in.

“I still very much believe that working within the emergency services and the ambulance service, in particular, is a privilege and I have never forgotten the core values instilled in me by some very influential people throughout my career in the voluntary sector, London Ambulance Service, Essex Ambulance Service and now in the West Midlands.

"This award is as much for them as it is for me. I feel honoured to work with some amazing people during my 28 years, many of which have become close friends.

“I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to not only my family for their never-ending support and understanding throughout my career, but also to my ambulance family for enabling me to do a job which is immensely rewarding.”

Another person recognised for their work is 59-year-old Aghia Pal Singh, who has worked as an infrastructure engineer for West Midlands Fire Service for 22 years and has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. The honour recognises his services to the communities of the West Midlands and his voluntary work in the UK and abroad. Aghia, who’s married and has a daughter and two sons, said:

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be awarded the MBE. I read the letter in disbelief and was overcome with emotion. I’m very grateful to whoever put me forward.  

“Working for West Midlands Fire Service has given me the opportunity to give something to the community – be that at work, through volunteering with the UK International Search and Rescue Team or via the various charity projects with which I’m involved. 

“As a Sikh I have tried, over the years, to put back into the community. Sikhism teaches that people should try to become less self-centred and live their lives in the selfless service of others. All I wanted to do was make a difference in people’s lives. I’m very humbled.” 

Aghia is one of a group of West Midlands Fire Service staff who volunteer their skills and expertise as members of UK International Search and Rescue. On behalf of the UK Government they have been deployed on several occasions to disasters around the world and Aghia is particularly proud of the links he has helped to foster with the Matumaini Orphanage in Tanzania, which he and colleagues have visited several times to help improve its facilities. Chief Fire Officer Phil Loach said:

“Aghia’s MBE is worthy recognition indeed. He is quiet, unassuming and professional and his contribution to the community is understated. He is passionate about the work he does for those who are less fortunate, and dedicated to promoting equality and awareness of other cultures.” 


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