Mildura Weekly : Friday June 20 Vol 8 No 33
www.milduraweekly.com.au 20 Mildura Weekly – 20/06/14 IN THE RIVERLAND THIS WEEK GRAEME Ward is a firm believer that any coun- try community needs volunteers to put in time to make their area a better place. It is something he has committed to doing in his home town of Waikerie, where he has been a member of the Country Fire Service for more than 37 years. “I was working for a local builder, and I thought I should volunteer for something,” Graeme said. “I used to live 20km out of town, and when I moved into town a couple of people talked me into going along and having a look at CFS training.” That was 1976, and the start of his volun- teering efforts, and it continues today, as well as coping with the demands of running his own business, Waikerie Building Services. “It started from there ,but I have always said country communi- ties need people to put something back, and donate a bit of their time,” Graeme said. “Country towns func- tion well because of their volunteers.” In the past four de- cades, Graeme’s com- munity involvement has included leading the Waikerie CFS Brigade as its captain for 23 years, and training volunteers from the Riverland and throughout South Australia. His outstanding leadership helped build a strong brigade, with capabilities that see it called on not only locally, but also throughout the Riverland and into Vic- toria. Graeme was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, but said he had benefitted most from his time in the CFS through mateship and team- work. “I have made friends across the State in competitions, and gained team support,” When Graeme Ward moved to Waikerie in 1976, he thought he would volunteer for some community work, starting with the Country Fire Service. But he never imagined he would spend nearly four decades as a volunteer, and captain his local brigade for 23 years. That outstanding commitment has seen him awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal. Graeme spoke to the Mildura Weekly’s Riverland writer BEV STORY about his experiences. When it comes to community work, Graeme’s on fire! Graeme said,”and I have worked with some great people. As an individual, things can be overwhelming, but as a team you can pretty much achieve anything.” Among the toughest things he has faced as a CFS volunteer has been attending road crashes – especially where people have lost their lives. “Certainly dealing with road trauma is tough, but as a team we work through it and have a debriefing afterwards,” he said. “Seeing injured kids, especially when they are around the ages of your own kids, is especially hard.” Waikerie doesn’t have a State Emergency Service unit, making its CFS brigade more ac- tive than most, attending an average of 150 call-outs a year. The brigade has up to 25 ac- tive members, and each year puts in between 7000 to 7500 hours into the Waikerie community, through meetings, training and call-outs. Graeme said that as with other community service groups such as Lions and Rotary, more CFS volunteers are always welcome. Under Graeme’s leadership, the Waik- erie brigade under- took training to com- bat emergency situations such as road crash rescues, and Hazmat drills for chemical spills or containment. It means that Waikerie un- dertakes that role for a bigger region centred on the Sturt Highway. Graeme has travelled extensively with the CFS, to train people locally and across the State, mainly in small rural brigades in the Riverland, and stations to the north, running compressed air breathing apparatus courses and others. He was previously on the State training group for the CFS. He has been a volunteer at major fires in other areas, including the Sydney fires in 2000. “I have been on interstate deployment, and to different jobs around South Australia, including the Adelaide Hills fires,” he said. Graeme used to be a keen speedway driv- er, and since he has stopped competing has provided fire protection at various race meet- ings around Australia, including local speed- way meetings, the Indy course in Queensland, Grand Prix races in Adelaide and Melbourne, at the Adelaide International and Mallala. His Australian Fire Service Medal nomi- nation stated that Graeme “publicly dem- onstrated his many skills of being a modern day volunteer member of a local fire brigade. Primarily, his ability to manage any emergen- cy situation has, over time, been developed through his dedication to not only improving his own knowledge, but also instilling that knowledge and discipline into others around him through giving his time to train people locally and across South Australia. “Success in fire service competitions at a State and national level and, more recently in New Zealand, exemplify his leadership and personal abilities. Mr Ward unreservedly gives his time to serve the community locally and nationally. His enthusiasm to be available at all times to help someone in need or to use his fire-fighting skills is exhibited by his brigade’s attendance records, and by his volunteering.” Graeme said the CFS had supported a State team to attend Australasian Fire Competitions in Australia and New Zealand, with the teams he was part of usually made up of members from Waikerie and Nuriootpa CFS. Graeme was named Waikerie Citizen of the Year in 2008 in recognition of his outstanding service to Waikerie CFS Brigade. But he says his CFS volunteering had only been possible through the support of others. “It should never cost you dollars out of your pocket, but it costs you time,” Graeme said. “Without the support of my wife Michelle and kids Craig and Sharna (Jachmann), along with my employees, it just wouldn’t be possible.” “I have made friends across the State in competitions, and gained team support... and I have worked with some great people. As an individual, things can be overwhelming, but as a team you can pretty much achieve anything.” – GRAEME WARD Make your purchase and go into the draw for a chance to win the value of your purchase up to the $100 Quality Country Killed Meats & Small Goods Phone 8583 5322 26 Randell Tce Monash Fresh Goat order by lunchtime Tuesday for Delivery Wednesday Beef Ribs $8.50 28th June Lyrup Club $22.00 Adults $10 Children U/12 Booking appreciated on 8583 8280 | 9 Beames Road Lyrup ALL YOU CAN EAT BUFFET 2 COURSE Entertainment “Trick” Playing hits from The 70’s through to today, 7PM - LATE 7PM - LLLLLLLLAAAAT AT AT AT AT MEALSFROM6PM Road LLLLyLyrurup TE TTE DRINKSPECIALSthroughoutthenight!!
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