TWO Watch Managers from Greater Manchester Fire and
Rescue Service (GMFRS) have been honoured by Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth II for their dedication to the young people of Moss Side
and search and rescue operations.
Michael Dillon - who helped found Moss Side Fire Station Boxing
Gym - has been awarded a BEM (British Empire Medal) for helping
transform the lives of many young people in Moss Side since the gym
opened in 2008.
The gym is run with the ethos of courage, discipline,
dedication, focus and respect for others - attributes Michael and
his fellow coaches believe are essential for being successful in
boxing and firefighting.
Michael said: "I am absolutely thrilled to receive this honour.
I love and am deeply passionate about the work we all do at the
"Being part of the club is an honour and a privilege, which is
enough of an award in itself, but it is really nice to be
recognised for the time and effort we put into working with young
"I am one of a team of very dedicated and passionate
firefighters, who give so much of themselves and their time to the
young people and the community of Moss Side.
"When I joined the fire service 29 years ago the expectation on
us was that you put fires out and rescued people. Over the years
the role of a firefighter has changed and now we're responsible for
preventing fires, identifying risks and being proactive in making a
difference to people's lives. To me that is what being a
firefighter is all about."
Neal Pickersgill received the MBE for his work in search and
rescue operations in the UK and abroad.
He is based at Fire Service Headquarters in Swinton and is
GMFRS' Resilience Team Leader. He became a firefighter in
1976 and moved into the search and rescue field 20 years ago.
Neal said: "I love the challenge of being part of a search and
rescue team, no two jobs are the same - it can be anything from
collapsed buildings to earthquakes.
"A couple of abroad incidents I have helped at are the
earthquake in Algeria in the 1990s and more recently the Japanese
tsunami in 2011. I also played a support role during the
Haiti earthquake where the team did an amazing job.
"I'm stunned and just can't put into words how I feel about the
MBE award. It is really nice to be recognised, especially for
my wife Mandy who has put up with a lot over the years, and also to
the search and rescue team who has been through it all with
Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority,
Councillor David Acton, added: "All of us at GMFRS are thrilled
that Michael and Neal have been honoured in this way.
"Michael's dedication to the community of Moss Side has
transformed the lives of so many young people, leading them away
from gang violence and giving them courage, discipline and respect
"His work epitomises our goal to place Greater Manchester's fire
stations at the heart of the communities they serve.
"And Neal's commitment to his search and rescue role over the
years in just remarkable.
"Neal and the other team members have helped out in numerous,
challenging incidents and natural disasters all over the world and
have saved many lives."
To find out more about Moss Side Fire Station Boxing Gym visit