Head teacher at St John the Baptist, the primary school in Findon once wrecked by fire, wins award for safety actions

A head teacher’s efforts to protect a school once devastated by fire have been recognised with an award.

Richard Yelland took on the role of fire safety officer as the school was unable to appoint a premises officer, due to lack of suitable available applicants.

Tom Simmonds, managing director of Allsaved, presents the Guardians Award to head teacher Richard Yelland

Tom Simmonds, managing director of Allsaved, presents the Guardians Award to head teacher Richard Yelland

He has since worked extra hours to ensure fire and safety standards at St John the Baptist School in Findon are at the highest level possible.

Allsaved, a national fire protection business based in Pulborough, selected Mr Yelland for its Guardians Award and presented him with a trophy and £400 at a school assembly.

Mr Yelland said: “It was a terrific surprise to receive the award just as I was about to start an assembly. Not just a surprise for me but also for the children, who were really excited to see the trophy and the cash award. It’s lovely to know that our work is appreciated.”

St John the Baptist School was devastated by fire in 1992. The hall, which doubled as a classroom, was completely gutted, so the governors had to apply for temporary classrooms and toilets in the school grounds.

The 100 pupils had to travel to Rustington for lessons at Georgian Gardens School for some weeks while the situation was resolved.

Business manager Sally Johnson, who nominated Mr Yelland, said: “He works tirelessly to keep fire and safety standards at the school high, a responsibility which often involves early mornings, late nights and working during the holidays and weekends.

“Fire safety is particularly important to us here at St John the Baptist as in 1992 we experienced a catastrophic fire, which destroyed parts of our school.

“As a result, Richard has had to take on the responsibilities of operations within the school, namely ensuring the school, children and staff are safeguarded against risk of fire.

“Despite all his other duties, Richard has left no stone unturned when it comes to ensuring the safety of everyone here at the school. This includes keeping our safety policies and equipment current and updated, organising regular fire drills, making sure call points are tested regularly and that all fire precaution regulations are being met and adhered to.”

The Allsaved Guardians Award aims to recognise and reward the vital role of employees who go the extra mile to keep their work premises safe.

Tom Simmonds, managing director, said: “It was a real pleasure to present Richard with his award. It’s clear that he has worked incredibly hard to ensure his school, teachers and children remain safe.

“As Richard knows, fire can have devastating effects and it’s Allsaved’s mission to reward those who work to prioritise fire safety every day.”

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