My Medal


(Photo by Monster Medals)

A comment by Jennie Fitzkee on one of my ambulance posts reminded me about my medal. When you work in the Ambulance Service in the UK, which is part of the NHS, you receive a medal after twenty years of service. The following conditions must be fulfilled, to receive it.

Operational staff who reach their 20-year milestone with the Ambulance Service are awarded a Queen’s Ambulance Service (Emergency Duties) Long Service & Good Conduct Medal provided they have completed 20 years’ service, with at least seven years on A&E duties, and hold a clean disciplinary record.

During my service as an EMT, we had the long-running National Ambulance Strike, which I actively participated in. As a result, the London Ambulance Service decided to deduct the six months we were on strike from our service, meaning we had to complete more than twenty years to receive one. (I know, spiteful…) Most of us regarded the medal with some cynicism. If you stayed in the job long enough, you got one, whatever your actual operational experiences might have been.

So some staff worked flat out every day in busy areas, doing all sorts of dangerous and difficult jobs, whilst those in the outer suburbs had a comparatively easy life. But everyone got the same medal. It became known as the ‘Turning Up Medal’, as all it really signified was that you had shown up every day, for at least twenty years.

Then there were always delays in the presentations, as they had to accumulate enough eligible staff to make the cost of the occasion worthwhile. So by the time I had completed almost twenty-two years of service, I had still not received one. Then I decided to leave, and work for the Metropolitan Police. I gave up all hope of ever getting my medal, which I only really wanted so that my Mum could accompany me to the presentation ceremony.

Almost a year after I had left, I received a letter telling me that I could attend the medal ceremony, and bring two guests. However, as I was no longer employed by them, I would not be granted the benefit of wearing the dress uniform that everyone else would wear to the occasion. I wanted my elderly Mum to be able to see me get it, so I agreed to go anyway, wearing a conventional suit and tie.

The ceremony was held in the impressive Assembly Room of Church House, next to Westminster Abbey, in Central London.

Once all the recipients had been presented with their medals, we were allowed to retire to the rear balcony, where drinks and snacks were served. That place has an impressive view of the ancient Abbey. My Mum made the evening, by looking across at the most famous church in Britain, and declaring, “I’ve seen that church before”. (Failing to recognise it as Westminster Abbey) She then sipped her tea, and wrinkling up her nose, she remarked loudly, “This is as weak as water, and tastes like cat’s pee”.

But I got my medal, and Julie and my Mum were there to see it presented.

It now rests in its box, in a drawer somewhere. I have nobody to leave it to, so will probably give it to a museum one day.

66 thoughts on “My Medal

  1. I’m glad you went and I’m glad your Mum and Julie were there. It perhaps it says a lot about you that you did it for your Mum. I think everybody who works in such jobs should get a medal. Here after 10 years the State Government awards after 10 years ambulance medals, firey medals and police medals. 10 years is about right I reckon. How many of your colleagues went through hell and back but didn’t get to 20 and therefore don’t have something to show for it. And I know that is all very silly and superficial. You either did the job or you didn’t. You either made a difference or didn’t. A piece of tin doesn’t matter but these individuals are the backbone of our society. Our choices in recognising them reflect on us. So I say congratulations Pete and well done. I was facing medical discharge so my medal was sent to my parents house where I was living at the time. Opened up the mail and there it was. I wore the ribbon once while in my polys on driver duty for a CO. Every ANZAC Day it is on my suit as I meet with a friend who did two tours of Iraq. He has the same medal for four years service full time. Over 1400 days in uniform. I would have eligible after 80 over 4 years, I probably racked up over 100 or 120. Experiences may vary but he seems happy I have it. I am. On my last night I was given a CO’s Coin and Certificate in front of my peers while I messed up my drill. It is nice to get recognition in front of others I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Lloyd. I had already left to work for the police, so was going to get it by post. But my mum wanted to see it presented, which is why I agreed to go. I was rather miffed that they wouldn’t lend me a dress uniform to have it pinned on, for her sake.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We had to apply for promotion back then, and service was not a consideration, as long as you had completed two years. I never sought it though, as it immediately took you off of operational duties, and put you in an admin role.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful post, Pete. I thoroughly enjoyed the information on the medal and the beautiful ceremony. A shame that it took so long for you to officially receive the medal, but better late than never. I think your mum definitely ‘made the day’. 🙂 Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wonderful memory Pete. I love your mum’s part in the story. I worked for the City of Seattle and for my trouble got a certificate or 2 along the way with a presentation by the Mayor when I reached 20 years. I also have a collection of tiny pins at 5, 10, 15, 20 yrs of service- with Chief Seattle’s head inscribed on them, for whom the city was named. You could pick a tie tack, pin, or pendant green or black. My husband also worked for the City so we have quite a collection. I’m sure someday they’ll be worth a lot of money. 😉 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Astute as ever. The only justification for a medal or ceremony is to please our mothers, so they can prove yet again how cool they are. “I’ve seen that church before” is a classic of understatement. Not being allowed to wear the dress uniform – what else is the point of it? – because you had retired stinks. X

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice story and I’m glad your mum got to see you receive your medal. She sounds like she was quite a character. I think they were a bit mean to say you couldn’t wear your dress uniform – on the other hand from what you’ve said about them it’s a surprise they hadn’t asked for it back when you left 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As it turned out, my Mum didn’t really care about the lack of uniform. She was more interested in the sausage rolls, and getting a cup of tea that was strong enough to drink. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I got a second hand guitar with my 20 year award! And no ceremony like yours. I think the Service was mealy mouthed in its approach..but I’m sure you fully deserved your award as does most in the sharp end of the Emergency Services. So well done. And a nice memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Funny how these things always seem to end up in a dusty drawer somewhere when we worked so hard for them!
    You get a medal like that in Canada, as well. My man is an EMT here (but, only casual so he won’t be getting this medal more than likely even after 18 yrs of service so far), he just used it as a springboard to become a full time paramedic. Funny how so many people seem to start out in the Paramedic Field to move on to other things!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Only you could turn a ceremonious event into a sad story.
    Congratulations on turning up every day. Despite the derogatory tone, it is an accomplishment performing one’s duty (Your ambulance stories tell us all how remarkable your days could be!) and I’m sure the 1000s of people you assisted would agree you deserve your medal.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 22 years in an extremely stressful job is quite an achievement, medal or not. It is good you finally got the recognition although it was quite snitty not to allow you to wear the uniform for the ceremony.

    Your mum sounds like quite the outspoken peach. Good for her!

    Liked by 1 person

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