Equality campaigner Lud honoured for tireless work

Lud tries to involve more from minority groups in the fire service

Lud tries to involve more from minority groups in the fire service

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A firefighter who has campaigned against discrimination in the fire service has been honoured with a national award.

Lud Ramsay, who works as a fire and education officer for Lothian and Borders Fire Service, was handed the One Workplace Equality Award by the Scottish Trade Union Congress for his “exceptional” work.

Mr Ramsay, 52, who is originally from London, moved to Edinburgh in 2008 to address a lack of minority representation in the service and immediately began an outreach programme to encourage women, ethnic minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to become firefighters.

He has also represented the interests of minorities in his role as an equality representative for the Fire Brigades Union.

Mr Ramsay, who joined Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service in 1988 before moving to Edinburgh, said: “I came here for the project of encouraging more women and minorities into the fire service and we’ve done the best we could.

“I hope that winning this award is a reminder to the fire and rescue service and the wider public sector that there is still effort to be made in challenging racism wherever and however it manifests itself, keeping us all on track with that aspiration of a society free from all types of discrimination.”

After moving to Leith to take up his new post, Mr Ramsay persuaded fire brigade bosses across Scotland to fund a DVD encouraging under-represented groups to join the service.

He also set up information and training programmes specifically for women and minority groups to prepare them for the entry exams to the fire service.

His efforts were rewarded when a third of the intake in 2008 came from under-represented groups.

A recruitment freeze came into force but Mr Ramsay, who is a father-of-two and was in the RAF before he became a firefighter, has continued to fight against discrimination in the fire service, helping the force to develop equality training.

Before moving to Edinburgh, he led a successful campaign against a firefighter who stood as a candidate for the far-right British National Party, despite becoming a personal target of racist threats.

“When I started in Hampshire, there were 2500 firefighters and three were from ethnic minorities,” he said.

“I went out to one fire and this bloke grabbed me. Everyone thought I was getting attacked but he was shaking my hand.

“He said he had never seen a black firefighter and didn’t believe they would employ one. That forced me to say it’s my responsibility to do something.

“Edinburgh has been great. The service saw that there was a problem and have been very supportive. But there’s still more to be done.”