Lancaster army barracks team honoured for flood heroics

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Heroes who rescued vital army equipment and information during the Lancaster floods have been honoured with special awards.

They include Ralph Gill, caretaker at Alexandra Barracks, who worked in waist-deep water to save items after the River Lune burst its banks.

Mr Gill, 52, has been caretaker at the Caton Road barracks for the past 10 years.

As storms lashed the district on Saturday, December 5 2015 at around 5pm, the area around the Army Reserve 
(formerly the Territorial Army) 
centre began to flood.

Ralph reported this and immediately set about protecting the building.

With no concern to his own personal safety, he isolated the electricity and shut down the boilers, actions which considerably hastened the clean-up later.

Working in emergency lighting in water up to his thighs, he then continued to save any other equipment and property, both military and personal, by raising each item above the rising water.

Joanne Fox, 53, who also works at the barracks, was also given an award for her work to rescue important documents in the administration office during the floods.

Realising that pay was processed earlier in December, she also liaised with another unit in Blackpool to ensure that all pay activities were completed.

Joanne’s actions ensured that soldiers were paid on time at Christmas and that no paperwork was lost from the barracks’ records.

She said: “It’s brilliant to be recognised for all the hard work during and after the flood, which was a very stressful and demanding time.”

Staff Sergeant Ian Lucas, an army reservist, was also honoured.

Ian reported to the barracks on the night of the floods and helped to recover and preserve equipment.

He established quarantine zones to prevent contamination of unaffected parts of the building and removed large amounts of contaminated soil and debris.

Once containers and skips had arrived, Ian supervised the clearance of the building with the help of a small team.

His actions helped reduce damage and allowed the Squadron to continue to function.

Ian said: “I’m extremely honoured and proud.

“It’s another achievement in my career – it’s great to be recognised for just doing my job.”

Ian joined the Regular Army in 1982, enlisting in the Royal Tank Regiment.

After retiring with the rank of Warrant Officer Class 2, he re-joined the Army Reserve and was made a Squadron Quartermaster Sergeant.

All three award winners work for Lancaster Army Reserve unit 381 Supply Squadron 156 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps.

They were awarded the Lord-Lieutenant’s Commendation and were presented with their awards by the Lord Shuttleworth KCVO, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Lancashire, during a ceremony held at Towneley Hall in Burnley.

Colonel Mark Underhill, Chief Executive of the North West Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association which runs the awards, said: “The Lord-Lieutenant’s Awards give us an opportunity to recognise the selfless commitment and dedication of the men and women who serve in our nation’s Reserve Forces and those who work supporting them.

“The selfless actions of Mr Gill, Mrs Fox and Staff Sergeant Lucas went above and beyond what would reasonably be expected of them and their efforts significantly reduced the impact of what could have proved a major crisis for the units they serve.”

The barracks houses an Army reserve centre with multiple units, an Army career centre and two detachments of cadets.