Nelson and Colne College Sixth Form was proud to hear that one of its Public Services tutors, Richie Watts had been honoured, alongside other First Responders, with a special award from the Queen, for volunteer work carried out in the local community.

Richie have been a volunteer for Rossendale First Responders for approximately 7 years, something which he has done alongside being a member of the Heart Start team and helping to get Community Public Access Defibrillators (CPADs) in the local towns. Richie is also a Field Trainer, Heart Start Instructor Trainer and Statistician within the team.

The College was thrilled to learn that the Community First Responders Team in Rossendale, had been given The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, which is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK and is equivalent to an MBE. It was awarded in recognition of both their role responding to serious or life-threatening emergencies and their additional voluntary work undertaken in the community.

Richie and other representatives from the group were also invited to attend the Royal Garden Party on Thursday 30th May.

Richie is an ex-serviceman, having spent 22 years in the Royal Air Force. In addition to his teaching in the Public Services department; he has also introduced Heart Start training to the College.  Heart Start is an initiative pioneered by the British Heart Foundation which provides free (Emergency Life Support) ELS training in the community and schools. The Heart Start programme includes skills such as assessing an unconscious patient, performing CPR, dealing with choking, serious bleeding and helping someone that may be having a heart attack. Richie has provided Heart Start training staff and students at the College.

Richie said “I am very proud to be part of a very busy team who do a lot of very important work in the community on a purely voluntary basis.  To also be invited down to Buckingham Palace to join in the Queen’s Garden Party was truly an honour.  I would like to think that it will encourage other members of the public to volunteer to join us. The Heart Start initiative that we have started in College has also been very rewarding, with a growing number of staff and students now trained to provide these life-saving skills in an emergency.”

Assistant Principal at Nelson and Colne College, Anita Ghidotti said, “We are delighted that Richie’s significant commitment to his volunteering work has been recognised at the very highest level. In addition to his teaching role Richie works tirelessly in College to increase awareness of First Response and First Aid issues and has provided ‘Heart Start’ training for a number of our staff and students. It’s fantastic that we have someone our students know and respect as a role model for volunteering. Richie demonstrates to us all how important volunteering is to our community.”