Ian Thompson Bursary Award Winners

7th Mar 2023

Recognition and celebration of innovation and success, as both individuals and as team members, should be par for the course of being a British APCO member.  It is an important ingredient for galvanising a professional community spirit amongst the Association. Our former Chief Executive Ian Thompson, who passed away in 2020, was a great advocate for education and developing young talent within the public safety industry. During Ian’s tenure, it was often discussed how we should support the development of these individuals while at the same time promoting British APCO and furthering its charitable objectives. 

On behalf of the British APCO Board, John Anthony, President, announced in November 2021 the formal launch of an award in Ian’s name.  The award is open to applicants of all ages in the first 2 or 3 years of working or studying in the field of critical communications in public safety within the UK and Ireland; they could have a role in a user organisation, be employed by a supplier or be in full-time studies. 

Ahead of the award presentations, John commented,

“I’m delighted that the Association has been able to introduce these awards.  Ian Thompson, our Chief Executive, who sadly passed away in 2020, was a real asset to this Association and left a positive mark on all those that met him. He was passionate about both critical communications and education, so this award will be a lasting tribute to his memory. It will be an honour to present these awards, together with Ian's wife Amanda, at our networking dinner on the evening of 7th March.”

This evening, at the annual British APCO dinner, the winners of the inaugural Ian Thompson Bursary were announced and presented with a commemorative trophy by Amanda Thompson.  There were several very strong submissions – and the judging panel decided it appropriate to nominate four recipients of an Ian Thompson Bursary.

Amy Finch – Digital Marketing Manager, Sepura

As a provider of solutions to global public safety organisations, Sepura has a remit to understand the needs and requirements of users in that market. An area of marketing that is often underestimated is the requirement to better understand evolving user needs, market dynamics and the trend in technologies so that they can support future users. It’s not just about selling a product but using different channels of engagement, including online, to understand user perception and gather feedback on what is needed to perform their jobs safely and securely. Amy is looking to use the bursary to really help with all of this – and here at British APCO we look forward to benefitting from some of Amy’s experience.

"This is a brilliant opportunity to deepen my knowledge of the changing critical communications industry and dig deeper into the thoughts, priorities and challenges of our users”, commented Amy. “Thank you to British APCO for the bursary, I am looking forward to working with you."

Conner Fearn – Consultant, Grayce/Mason Advisory

Conner’s work in public safety has been focused on the implementation of new ICCS and CAD systems with a particular interest in Command and Control, call handling and incident management.  There’s a wealth of emerging tech and software – all looking to solve pressures and challenges in the public safety space, and the critical role IT plays.

Identifying ways to find and expose intricacies with call handling data that would normalise the results we see across emergency agencies, provides the opportunity to uncover processes or technologies that are slowing down call answer times and remove those from the chain to improve the service to the citizen.  Research into this area can be applied across the public sector services both in the UK, and internationally, to allow for accurate and transparent data recording and publication, as well as to spread some advanced communications and operating knowledge in how to cut call answer times to a minimum.  Conner plans to use the bursary to widen his knowledge of public safety call handling – of both emergency & non-emergency calls – to feed back into the British APCO membership and other key stakeholders.

James Searle – User & Assurance Manager, NHS Ambulance Radio Programme

James is the User and Assurance Manager in the Ambulance Radio Programme and is also a Communications Tactical Advisor (CTA).  A recent joiner into a public safety IT & Comms career, he has hands on experience with public safety in his capacity as a volunteer for the RNLI, serving on the Exmouth All-Weather and Inshore Lifeboats as a Deputy Mechanic.

The trust placed in a user to access and operate Critical Communications platforms should come hand in hand with the responsibility and accountability to share relevant information collaboratively.  James has a particular interest in accessing and sharing learning with new and future colleagues and peers from across the emergency services and intends to not only encourage the sharing of good practice, but also the sharing of information.  Here at British APCO, one of our strategic objectives states, “sector-specific, cross-sector and cross-agency professional practice is by far the best way to share knowledge, best practice” and we’re looking forward to working with James to see how we can do it better, building on what he discovers as part of the bursary.

Oliver Horrell – Inside Sales Account Manager, Zebra Technologies

Working with public safety services across the UK & Ireland, Olly provides input to resilient, future proofed solutions to help tackle some of the main operational challenges associated with technology in the hands of first responders around Mobile Computing, Asset Tracking and Critical Communications.

Understanding how Public Safety markets adopt technology, and identifying differences in other geographies, Olly wants to look at how different countries are applying this new era of technology into their business processes to drive improvements in the way public safety and first responders can operate. The bursary will allow him to start to do this – and he is keen to share his observations about the current levels of engagement in the public safety environment and make suggestions as to how partnerships and collaborations could grow to drive the next generation of future-proofed, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable solutions.

Thank you to all of the entrants for making the inaugural award of this bursary such a success, and huge congratulations to all of the winners.

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