Salvation Army officer recognised for emergency work
published on 6 Aug 2020
A Salvation Army officer who battled back from a life-threatening coronavirus infection has been recognised for his emergency response work over the past 15 years.
Major Karl Gray is the pan-London emergency services co-ordinator and has been part of the church and charity’s emergency response at major incidents in recent years including the Grenfell Tower Fire, the Croydon tram crash and terrorist incidents.
During his time he has attended more than 440 incidents, providing refreshments and a friendly face to firefighters on the ground.
Karl was taken unwell and spent eight weeks at Homerton University Hospital with coronavirus at the start of the pandemic, with over five weeks being in the Intensive Care Unit, and this week fire crews in Hackney presented Karl with a firefighter’s axe to welcome him back and to thank him for his years of service.
Historically, every firefighter was given an axe at the start of their career and on retirement took theirs home. Nowadays the axe is ceremonial and it is a great honour for someone outside of the fire service to receive one.
Hackney Borough Commander Lee Sandy said: “Karl is a huge part of the team at Shoreditch Fire Station and is known by firefighters across London.
“It’s always such a boost seeing his cheerful face offering you a hot drink and a sandwich when you’ve been working hard at an incident.
“We were very sorry Karl had been taken so poorly and he was much missed by everybody.
“The presentation was made on behalf of all the crews throughout Hackney in recognition of Karl’s continued support to the Brigade. We’re delighted to welcome him back.”
Lieutenant Colonel David Shakespeare, The Salvation Army’s Divisional Commander in North London, said: “Karl is deeply committed to supporting the people of London, and his investment in relationships with the London Fire Brigade is significant. People recognise his integrity and faith perspective.”