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Brave Sarah receives national award

Sarah Kelly with her GMB award
Sarah Kelly with her GMB award

An ambulance worker who has campaigned for legislation change after being sexually assaulted whilst on duty has received a national award for her efforts.

Sarah Kelly, from Halifax, is the recipient of the Eleanor Marx special award, which was handed over at the 101st GMB Congress in Brighton this week.

Whilst working for Yorkshire Ambulance Service in 2016, she was seriously assaulted by a patient that she was trying to help.

Speaking about her experience, Sarah said: “I’ll never forget the look in his eyes. He seized my leg, he grabbed my right breast. Tears come to my eyes now just reliving the shock – and the violation I felt.

“It later transpired that this man was a notorious sexual predator and had breached a criminal behaviour order four times. The police and the local hospital had instructions on how to deal with him and ensure he was never left alone with a woman.”

But after his release she was terrified she would have to respond to him - the YAS system had no way of flagging predators who had no fixed abode.

Through her GMB branch, with the help and support of Halifax MP Holly Lynch, a campaign was started called Protect the Protectors.

The aim of the campaign was to make sentencing guidelines tougher for people who assaulted emergency service workers carrying out their duty.

Sarah said: “I’m really quiet humbled by it really. If hadn’t been for the support I received from my union GMB, from my officer Stacey Booth and Pauline Kiely my branch secretary - I wouldn’t be working in the ambulance service.

“Both of them and my husband Neil gave me the support to carry on going, even when things were tough, so that we could challenge this and fight for staff to be protected at work.”