CHESHIRE Fire and Rescue Service (CFRS) are celebrating after chief fire officer, Paul Hancock, was presented with Stonewall's north west senior champion award.

CFO Hancock accepted his award just one week after the Service made it into the top quarter of Stonewall's annual top 100 list of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) friendly employers.

Accepting the award, which was given in recognition of his visible leadership around the LGBT and wider equality agenda, CFO Hancock said: “I have always been clear that I want all my staff to be able to come to work, be themselves and give their all.

“I am hugely proud to receive this award which shows that we are taking the right steps to open up the culture and get the best out of all our people.”

CFRS, who made it to number 25 this year, was one of three fire and rescue services making the 2014 top 100.

Tyne and Wear built on their previous success by coming eighth, with Devon and Somerset creeping up the ranks to number 54.

The Workplace Equality Index has been in place for ten years and provides an audit for workplace culture.

It is seen as the definitive benchmark for LGBT employers who are ranked by completing an evidenced assessment.

Almost 400 organisations entered this year's index including some of the world's biggest firms.