In a moving ceremony held at the Weddin Fire Control Centre, the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Region West Manager, Mr Paul Smith, recognized the lengthy and ongoing commitment of volunteer firefighters from the Warraderry Brigade, which is a unit of the Weddin RFS area.
After an introduction from the Mid Lachlan Valley Team Superintendent, Ken Neville, Mr Smith presented 11 members with a combination of Long Service Awards that recognized an astounding 402 years of combined service to their community.
Mr Smith told the huge audience, consisting of RFS members, their partners (or better halves as it was mentioned kindly at the ceremony) and friends that “it is an absolute honour to be able to present these awards and I would personally like to acknowledge the tireless work undertaken by our members throughout the Mid Lachlan Valley.
“Every member being recognized here tonight is not afraid of hard work and has shown a willingness to go the extra mile for their Brigade”.
Mr Smith then went on to say that “I would particularly like to acknowledge Mr Barry Knight who tonight is receiving an award for 60 years service to his community.
“Barry has held the position of Deputy Captain for over 50 consecutive years and has also housed and cared for the Brigade’s bush fire tanker since 1997, often being the first to respond to reports of fire or other emergencies.
All of the members being recognized here tonight have given up their time selflessly, and are driven by their commitment to helping their communities in times of emergency.
“Whether it’s responding to bush fire emergencies or attending car accidents and structure fires, such as the McClintock’s fire in Grenfell last week, our volunteers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Our members don’t volunteer their time for awards or accolades, however today is an opportunity for the wider NSW community to express their sincere thanks for these members and their ongoing contribution” concluded Mr Smith.
Following this address, the Warraderry Brigade members were called out one at a time and had their medals presented and pinned to their shirts by Mr Smith with Ken Neville and the Weddin Shire Mayor and RFS veteran, Maurice Simpson, also in attendance.
By this time there was a strong feeling of emotion in the room as each member’s name was read out - along with a rendition of their service history – preceding them coming forward to accept their medals.
Many anecdotes about the past were exchanged by all present and no doubt the ceremony will be remembered and cherished by all present for many years to come.
It was commented by one person present at the ceremony that the whole evening exemplified what is truly meant when Australians talk about community service and commitment to their neighbours – especially in the bush.