top of page

APRIL 2022

Chichester April 14th

On Thursday 14th April Chris Holgate, founding trustee and chairman Fire Safety Friends Of Russia received an award from Chichester City Council for his efforts over the past several years delivering humanitarian aid and promoting and encouraging friendly peaceful cooperation.



Chris Holgate is a familiar name and face to Councillors through his regular attendance at the City Council’s Community Affairs Committee when he updates the City Council on the work of (both) his charity the Fire Safety Friends of Russia (FSoR).

Chris has also worked tirelessly on links between Chichester in support of the objectives of his charity, .........................and operates very much as a ‘one man band’.


Chris is a modest man, but hugely dedicated to his cause, his solo efforts were judged to make him a very worthy recipient of a Chichester City Council Civic Award, which was agreed by the City Council last October, in recognition of the significant humanitarian work he has done.

Chris Holgate receiving Civic Award - 14 April 2022 - The Mayor John Hughes - Chris Holgat


Surrey UK October 16th

On the 16th October 2019 a delegation from the Training and Consulting Centre for Rescue Units, Novomskovsk, Tula Region, Russia, an autonomous non-profit organization providing additional professional education for rescue and fire fighting services, visited Surrey Fire and Rescue Service. The purpose of the visit was to research the various training methods used by the services in the UK at both training centres and at fire stations.

The visit was arranged in partnership with Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and with the cooperation of Andrei Dmitriev, Transeuropean Centre of Commerce and Finance.


A very special thank you to Steve Owen-Hughes Chief Fire Officer, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service and Fire Safety Friends of Russia Trustee, together with his staff members Assistant Chief Fire Officer Roger Childs and Group Commander Dave Nicolson.


A very successful and useful visit working together in the interest of saving lives.


Left to right Elena Bykova, Senior lecturer, Tatyana Israilova, Senior lecturer, Svetlana Levenchik, Director of the Centre, CFO Steve Owen-Hughes, Chris Holgate FSFOR, Vitaly Bogach, Vice director of educational activities, Nikolay Denisov, Senior lecturer.


Kursk Region

One of the objects of Fire Safety Friends Of Russia is to encourage and promote good international relations. As part of that work Chris Holgate attended the Kursk City Day celebrations as the official representative of the City of Chichester.


In addition to the City Day celebrations, a number of meetings were held with schools keen to develop links with their UK counterparts.

Additionally  on 24th September 2019, participation in an event planting trees to form a new apple orchard to commemorate  the 100th anniversary of the writer Konstantin  Dmitrievich  Vorobyov.


There were delegations from many countries as well as other Russian Regions. During the celebrations a meeting was held with the delegation from Moldova at their request, to discuss the possibility of creating some cultural links with the UK.


Moldova delegation at a conference - 'Women in Business'.


Kursk Region


25th February


A visit was made to the opening ceremony of a conference about the state policy regarding the preservation of military history and the involvement of young people in that process including the development of the cadet movement. At the event Chris Holgate met Mikhail Alekseyevich Bulatov, Hero of the Soviet Union; Ivan Malkov, chairman of the City Council of War and Labour Veterans, Tayana Voronina, Olga Germanova, Viktor Karamyshev, Deputies of the State Duma; Roman Cheked, Chairman of the Committee on Education, Science, Family and Youth Policy of the Regional Duma, Svetlana Medvedskaya, director of Secondary School № 18 named after  A.S. Sergeev and cadets, the cadets from Secondary School № 43 named after Marshal Zhukov and guests from Voronezh and Yaroslavl.


Later in the Palace of Pioneers and Schoolchildren, a tour was arranged of various exhibitions including one entitled City of Military Glory covering the occupation and liberation of Kursk. Meetings were organized with Alexander Trubnikov, the director of the Palace, a deputy of the Kursk Regional Duma, who received the title “Kursk Antonovka. Person of the Year -2018 " for promoting youth peacekeeping " This was followed by a meeting with Peter Alekseevich Mikhin, Honorary Citizen of the City of Kursk. Peter was an artillery officer during the Second World War and a good friend who has written several books about his experiences during the war. The meeting was open to several groups, including young people, interested in the history of the war. During the meeting Peter was handed a miniature Royal Artillery Badge sent to him by one of our members Bob Chambers with a message "From one gunner to another"

26th February


A visit was made to the Nightingale Museum dedicated to the symbol of the Kursk Region. It is claimed Kursk nightingales sing in a different way to those in other parts of the world.


Then onto Secondary school № 27 named A.A. Deineka where a meeting took place with long time friend Tatiana Panevina, School Director. This was the first Kursk school to link with a school in the UK. The students put on a dramatization of the Rudyard Kipling fairy tale “A cat that was walking by himself”. The play and costumes were all created by the children.  


In the evening in the editorial office of the magazine “VIP. Sight. Information. Partnership” a meeting was held with Mikhail Izotov, Editor-in-Chief of the magazine and Deputy Chairman of the Board of the Kursk Branch of the Peace Foundation and editorial staff.

27th February


On this day a visit to Secondary School № 35 named after KD. Vorobyov, for a meeting with the director of the school Elena Besedina who is also a Deputy of the Kursk City Assembly, and the foreign language teachers. This was the first time a visit had been made to this school. The school had prepared a program for the visit which included an exhibition about the History of the Railway District and the Museum of Konstantin Vorobyov. There was a small concert program in which the students sang songs and poems in English followed by an open questions from the students session. The Director of the school is keen for the link with us to be continued.

In the evening a new museum Kursk - City of Military Glory was visited. The museum is situated next to the main war memorial and was opened during the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk on the initiative of the deputies of the Kursk City Assembly.

28th February


Together with members of the Peace Foundation, Chris Holgate visited the gala concert of the winners of the VIII Regional Creative Festival of Youth “Youth of Russia”. Before the gala there was a tour of an exhibition about Kursk Region and the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students which took place in the city of Sochi. The honoured guests at the event were Deputy Governor of the Kursk Region Ekaterina Kharchenko, Federal Inspector of the Office of the Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Central Federal District Sergey Podchalimov, Chair of the Kursk City Assembly Alla Chertovy, Chairman of the Federation of Trade Union Organizations of the Kursk Region, Aleksey Lazarev and Chairman of the Committee on Youth and Tourism of the Kursk Region, Vladimir Grebenkin. In a conversation with Chris Holgate, Alla Chertovy, the Chair of the Kursk City Assembly expressed a wish he would be able to accept an invitation to Kursk City Day this year. The gala concert showed the Region of Kursk is very rich in traditional music and dance talents. The gala included two singers, sisters Irina and Galina Ermakova, who Chris Holgate met 5 years ago at South-Western State University where they were studying. They now have a professional career singing. Also taking part was Pavel Mikhin, the grandson of the veteran artillery officer Peter Mikhin.

29th February

The final visit was to Child Development Center - Kindergarten No. 98 where Chris Holgate was met by the head teacher Nadezhda Ponomareva, who is also a Deputy of the Kursk Regional Duma. After visiting the Toy Museum which is based on a principle created 100 years ago by Nikolai Dmitrievich Bartram whose ancestors came from Scotland. During the tour the children were engaged by Chris Holgate discussing their activities in the simulation play area and answered questions about their present activities and hobbies, some of the children using the English they had already learnt at a very young age.

Photo052 en.jpg


29. 01. 2018 - Meeting in Kursk City Administration

Continuing our efforts to forge links between Russia and the UK. A meeting at Kursk City Administration to discuss and agree ways to progress the initial links and ideas for new links.

In the center – Nikolay  Ovcharov –The Mayor of Kursk, Chris  Holgate – Fire Safety Friends Of Russia, peace programs coordinator between cities of Kursk, Chichester and Worthing.


From the left – M. Vasiljev – Kursk City Counsel Deputy, V. Trepakov – Vice head of Kursk City Council, E. Degtyarjova – the head of the frontier cooperation department of Kursk Regional  external relations committee, A.Chertova – The Chair of Kursk City Council.


From the right – I.Olovyannikova-Kursk city Administration consultant, S. Belkin – the head of Kursk City Departnemt of Education, G.Okunkova –the head of Kursk city Administration Committee for organization and staffing, I.Agapova – vice head of the Kursk  Regional Branch of the Russian Peace Foundation.

JULY 2017

Houses of Parliament


As part of our work encouraging people to people links, a visit to the Houses of Parliament by Russian school children from Kursk on 19th July was arranged by Lord Truscott of St James's, Patron of Fire Safety Friends Of Russia. Lord Truscott spent some time talking to the children and meeting Natalia Zheleznyakova (yellow top) and Chris Holgate (blue shirt), Founder of FSFOR. Natalia created the first link for Chris with the Russian Fire Service.  Our grateful thanks to the Rt. Hon the Baroness Evans for taking the photo in Westminster Hall.


Kursk Region


Another step in creating friendly links.

A gift from the Sea Cadets and Royal Marine Cadets, TS Vanguard, Worthing was passed to the Sea Cadets at School 18, Kursk, Russia during September. Chris Holgate collected the gift from TS Vanguard, a plaque with the ships crest and two tally bands and the Mayor of Worthing Cllr Sean MacDonald presented the gift to the Cadets  in Russia during a visit as a guest of Kursk Town Administration.

On return to the UK the gifts from Kursk were passed to the CO TS Vanguard.

 AUGUST 2016

Arkhangelsk Region Project

Click on the image or photos button for more photos illustrating the visit.

Two instructors, Station Managers Jason Sharp and Mark Duffy from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service formed a team as members of the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation and visited Arkhangelsk, Russia the week commencing 22nd August 2016, following several months of preparation by Jason and Mark in liaison with Arkhangelsk Region Rescue Service. 

This was the next step in an extensive Fire Safety Friends Of Russia project assisting with service development, following the visit earlier in the year by Michael Willis and Andy Newton. The overall project is expected to last four years.

Jason and Mark, representing UKRO, are part of a team assembled for the project. The other members of the team are Assistant Chief Officer Stephen Owen-Hughes, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, Michael Willis OBE. former Chief Ambulance Officer and adviser to the Minister of State for Health, Professor Andy Newton, Clinical Consultant to South East Coast Ambulance Service, Chris Holgate, Founding Trustee, Fire Safety Friends Of Russia and project co-ordinator and Terry Beck, FSFOR logistics.

The visit by Jason and Mark was an intensive five days of work devoted to updating the Arkhangelsk Region Emergency Services with current UK practice and procedures for rescuing persons trapped in road vehicles and providing initial trauma care. This involved classroom work on the issues associated with the latest generation of cars including hybrid, as well as several days of practical exercises.

The week was extremely successful with the Russian instructors not only being pleased with the updates but also being impressed with the method of instruction used, which they have now adopted for delivering future training themselves. The passing on of information was not one way, Jason and Mark also leaned a few useful procedures from their Russian colleagues.

The Arkhangelsk Rescue Service Instructors started a programme of training for the Region based on the UKRO course the very next Monday.

During the week we were joined by two fire fighters from the USA, Chief Andrew Turcotte and Deputy Chief Stephen Sloan of Portland Fire Department, Main, for discussions exploring co-operation with the FSFOR project in Arkhangelsk. It was agreed the Portland Fire Department will work with FSFOR assisting in delivering the overall project.

RUSSIA 20th – 27th June 2016

“You came here as guests – you are leaving as friends.”

Visit to Kursk Russia by students from the Sir Robert Woodard Academy, Lancing

The following written by Guy Willams the SRWA Teacher who jointly organised and led the visit.

On the morning of the 20th June an intrepid band of adventurers set out on a unique expedition – to build bridges of friendship with the students of School 27 in Kursk, Russia. Bethany Johnson, Alexander Luff, Lauren Neal and Rosie Neate were accompanied by Ms Barr and Mr Williams on a journey of discovery.

The story started in November 2013 when a delegation from the city visited the Academy to strike up a relationship under the auspices of Chris Holgate, a former West Sussex fire officer and Founding Trustee of Fire Safety Friends Of Russia. They made a powerful, warm impression on the staff and students who met them and out of that meeting grew a plan. In April the following year, the two schools simultaneously opened art exhibitions of each other’s work linked via Skype. In November that year, a similar event saw a joint exhibition of photographs of home. In September 2015, Guy Williams was a guest of the city of Kursk as the plan for a visit took shape.

The whole experience was profoundly moving, energising and exhausting. Our students have a very different understanding of life in Russia and have made very firm friends. All of them are already talking of when we will return. All of them have been changed by the experience - they have grown in confidence and stature and recognise that this was a very significant moment in their lives. When reflecting on their most important moment, they all referred to the commemoration of the outbreak of the Great Patriotic War (22nd June 1941 – the day the Nazis invaded and Russia joined WW2). We were involved in the ceremony at four o’clock in the morning, holding lanterns in memory of the 27 million who died. We were special guests at their leavers’ ceremony - it was a great honour and a delight to see how significant a part education and teachers play in the lives of all young people in Kursk.

We saw so much and tasted so many flavours of life in this beautiful country that it is impossible to list them all here but it was such a rich programme with so many opportunities to feel the welcome and warmth of the Russian people that we are committed to returning as soon as we can. On our second day, we took part in an art workshop – at the centre of the banner that we created were the words: ‘You came here as guests – you are leaving as friends’. We were all touched by the simplicity and truth of this sentiment.

We hope that this is the first of many exchanges. We know that the world is little stronger as result of it. We will always remember it and hold it in a very special place in our hearts.

APRIL 2016

Arkhangelsk Region Project

Click on the image or photos button for more photos illustrating the visit.

As a first stage in the programme of cooperation, agreed with our Arkhangelsk Civil Emergency Services colleagues, a team from FSFOR visited Arkhangelsk 5th to 9th April to assess the current medical response to incidents, in particular road vehicle collisions.

The  team consisted of Michael Willis OBE, retired Chief Ambulance Officer and former adviser to the Minister of State for Health and Professor Andy Newton Consultant Paramedic and Chief Clinical Officer, South East Coast Ambulance Service, together with Chris Holgate FSFOR and Denis Sebentsov FSFOR.

Over the four days, in order to assess current procedures, training and equipment, visits were made to the Arkhangelsk Region HQ Station and Call Centre, Regional Fire and Rescue Training Centre, Northern State Medical University Centre for first aid training, a volunteer fire station, ambulance station and observed a practical exercise  “Medical response to road collision with multiple injured persons”.

A meeting with the Head of the Regional emergency services to discuss the findings and preliminary discussion on a future action plan took place prior to a joint meeting the following day involving  the delegation from the UK, representatives of the Ambulance Service, Fire and Rescue Services, the Government representative for Arkhangelsk Region (Ministry of Public Health, the Agency for State Fire Service and Civil Defence), Fire and Rescue Services  Regional Training Centre and the Northern State Medical University.

Finally a meeting with Alexander Uvarov, Head of the Arkhangelsk Region Civil Emergency Services to discuss the initial findings and agree a basic framework for progressing the objectives of the Arkhangelsk Region Rescue and Fire Services.

The next planned stage is a visit by the UK Rescue Organisation to introduce the Arkhangelsk Region Rescue Service Instructors to the latest casualty extrication techniques used in the UK.

MARCH 2016


We are very pleased to announce and welcome

Lord Truscott of St James's


as a Patron of Fire Safety Friends Of Russia

bottom of page