Officials, members, families and friends gathered at Cobram Barooga Golf Club on Friday night to honour the service achievements of Victoria State Emergency Service and NSW State Emergency Service volunteers.
In attendance were NSWSES Commissioner Mark Smethurst and NSW Regional Controller Bernard Kates, along with VICSES asssistant chief officer Keith O’Brien and VICSES operations manager Brendan Corboy who was the master of ceremonies for the evening.
Life memberships were awarded to two members to recognise outstanding service to their communities over many decades.
Keith Norton joined the unit in 1994 after serving in the military for nine years.
Mr Corboy said Mr Norton was a leader and a mentor to all Cobram unit members.
‘‘Keith is always present at community engagement events — and always willing to assist with unit fundraising,’’ he said.
‘‘He is enhancing the Cobram unit through his tireless efforts and commitment to the community of Cobram.’’
Also receiving life membership honours at the awards night was Peter Hueston who has clocked up a massive 38 years of service with Cobram SES and Tocumwal and District Search and Rescue Squad.
Mr Corboy said this long period of service included leadership roles and over the years, serving in no less than 32 positions.
‘‘In the early days most of Peter’s farming equipment was used as it took the Tocumwal squad three years to fund their own equipment,’’ he said.
‘‘Peter has fond memories of the huge task it was to fundraise and build the Cobram headquarters with a budget of $20000.
‘‘This saw Peter and the 27 volunteers from that unit do most of the work themselves, only using tradesmen when they had to.
‘‘Many of these tradies were roped into being volunteers, which helped with the tight budget.
‘‘Peter provides a wealth of knowledge to all unit members, particularly around the topic of rescue,’’ Mr Corboy said.
‘‘He now mentors and leads new members, and is always willing to share some good stories about the history of the Cobram unit.’’
VICSES long service medals were presented to John Stava and Keith Norton (20 years), and five-year medals went to Kris Weiss, Justin Greatorex, Jo Poskitt and Darren Hawke.
National medals went to Cory Herezo and Jinette Graham, both with 15 years of service.
NSWSES long service medals were presented to Keith Norton and John Stava (both 20 years).
Fifteen-year long service medals went to Jinette Graham and Corey Herezo, 10-year long service medals to Luke Herezo and Jodie Graham, plus five-year service medals to Justin Greatorex, Jo Poskitt and Kriss Weiss.
These awards recognise the tireless service and dedication to duty that is the hallmark of SES volunteers, who respond rapidly at any hour of the day to rescue people during emergency situations, such as storms and floods and motor vehicle accidents.
SES volunteers help police in search and rescue operations and also have an important support role during major bushfires.