Operation Florian attends ‘Transforming Lives with Africa” at at The University of Central Lancashire

Wed 13, Jun, 2018

Operation Florian staff Michael Doherty and Anthony Burscough attend an event at the University of Central Lancashire, in Preston “Transforming Lives Since 1828”, this was part of the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) 190th Anniversary and were invited as VIP Guests to celebrate the links between UCLan and Africa that brought together key influencers, representatives from industry, recruitment agents, alumni and senior staff from UCLan.  The University of Central Lancashire is proud of the links it has established in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is a key market for UCLan in delivering our Internationalisation Strategy. At the heart of UCLan’s international strategy is the development of holistic partnerships for the benefit of all that provide unique and innovative opportunities for our students and staff.


Operation Florian has been working in partnership with the University of Central Lancashire since 2011, when the first training was undertaken by fire fighters from Bulawayo Fire and Ambulance Service, Zimbabwe involving the new modern equipment donated to them. Following the 2012 trip where the first group of UCLan students took part, it was decided that it will be beneficial if the students continue to be involved in similar projects as provided a fantastic opportunity for them to get involved in international projects and helping people from disadvantaged backgrounds and play a leading role in promoting the profile of the University of Central Lancashire in the Fire Community internationally. This is funded by the University of central Lancashire through its International Travel Bursary Scheme for staff and students, which provides funding to support students and gives them an opportunity to add an international dimension to their studies. 

The ‘Transforming Lives with Africa ‘– Gala Dinner, was the highlight of a symposium which took place from the 25th to 27th of April 2018 for UCLan’s key stakeholders who were involved in discussions and presentations on Transnational education, interactive sessions with students and alumni, recruitment and industry–related presentations and discussions all taking place at UCLan’s Preston campus. During the Gala Dinner, Liz Bromley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor said ….”The School of Engineering has been in collaboration since 2012, on a project with the fire services humanitarian charity, Operation Florian, during which time over 44 UCLan Fire Engineering and Fire and Leadership students have been able to go out to Zimbabwe to support the communities in Bulawayo and other cities, by joining various Fire and Rescue Services from throughout the UK, in training firefighters in areas such as major incident management, advanced community safety, ambulance training and advanced investigations. 

Operation Florian is an international humanitarian, volunteer-run charity set up in 1995, which works to promote the protecting of life amongst communities in need, worldwide, by the provision of equipment and training to improve firefighting and rescue capabilities. I know that we have representatives here this evening from Operation Florian and we are extremely grateful for the support given to this project which not only gives our students a great opportunity to assist in this vital training and experience a different culture and environment, but also ensures that essential training is given to ensure that the Zimbabwe fire services are better able to deal with incidents, keeping their communities safer by improving their firefighting and rescue infrastructure”.


UCLan Senior Lecturer in Fire Safety Engineering Shephard Ndlovu has co-ordinated the University’s involvement for the last seven years. He said: “This partnership is a continuing venture for the charity and has proved to be very successful for all parties. Our students benefit from working on the job with experienced UK fire officers on something that has a direct impact on the work of the Zimbabwean fire services.”

A second year student on the BSc (Hons) Fire and Leadership Studies course, Julian Lopez who took part in the trip earlier this year in March 2018 said “All in all this was a life-changing visit. It has given not only me but also the other students an insight into what life in Africa is and it makes you appreciate what you have a lot more. I am very grateful that the University offers and funds trips like these as it helps develop you not only as a student but as an individual as well”.


Operation Florian representatives also took part in a workshop entitled “Engineering a Fire Safe Africa – Challenges and Opportunities” held at the Mitchell and Kenyon Cinema, chaired by Shephard Ndlovu, a Senior Lecturer in Fire Safety Engineering and Trustee of Operation Florian. Those who took part in the discussions included Sikhangele Zhou who is currently the Chamber Secretary in the City of Bulawayo, in charge of the fire and ambulance services, Michael Doherty Chair of Operation Florian and Anthony Burscough, Trustee of Operation Florian, Michael Mbaka UCLan graduate of the MSc Fire Safety Engineering now working as a Senior Airport Fire Officer in Nigeria.