By Michelle Rhodes
So many well-deserved awards were given and received last Saturday evening 12 August, at the Whitianga Fire Station’s Annual Awards ceremony. It would take a lot of space to list them all, we have only the space to present the highlights, but for more, check out Facebook and the Fire Brigade Website.
The gathering would be the best and most genuine group of people and the word of the night – ‘Family’. Roly Chaney, Chief Fire Officer worked out that 329 years of combined service was being recognized…. Peter Mangin (Grassy) represented 49 of those years. Grassy is a loved Senior Fire Officer.
Entire families attended to support their loved ones and share the recognition and respect this team of volunteer fire fighters have earned and deserved. Working through Hurricanes and Covid, they have continued to be there for those in need on the Coromandel Peninsula.
Presenters and comperes for the evening were Roly Chaney - Chief Fire Officer, Matt Cook - Group Manager FENZ, Jason Harris - United Fire Brigades Association NZ (UFBA).
In his speech, Matt Cook, Group Manager, of Fire Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), specifically thanked loved ones for their support of the firefighter in their families, as well as thanking and recognising the employers of Firefighters for their support of their staff and allowing them to respond to call-outs, when the call goes out, they can just go.
In the room, a newborn baby was being breast - fed by mum. Mum and dad are both firefighters. Karen Bergshoeft and Adam Collier met when they joined the Fire Brigade and in the last five years have made a family of three children, Owen, Waverley, and Elara. between emergency call-outs and potty training.
When you say family - There was Derek Collier, Deputy Chief Fire Officer, son Adam with daughter-in-law Karen. We can’t forget that Derek’s Dad was a Chief Fire Officer and his second son also.
Meg Hoylands one of the new recruits in training was present with her dad, Jason Hoylands who received a long-service and good conduct medal – 28 years. “it’s very exciting to think my Grandad in Kuaotunu is a Firefighter, my dad and now me. It’s hard sometimes fitting the training in around my study, but my family encourages and supports me in this.”
Roly’s wife, Shelley Chaney, is also a Firefighter.
FENZ uses humour so well to communicate, acknowledge each other, and teach. The positive culture of friendship and co-operation at the Whiti Station is very infectious. Questions are encouraged and everyone is still learning about being the best team mate and firefighter they can be.
The “Fun Awards” section of the evening, these quirky and poignant trophies’ may be on display at the Open Day on Sunday, 20 August. Destroyer…..damage to equipment and property. Bright Spark… because anyone can have a ‘Blond’ moment….. Dip Stick self-explanatory ….. Driver of the Years insert a silent Bad … you got it….. Blow Arse awarded for dangerous discharge of personal gases. The Sherrif an annual title or responsibility, my favourite, see the video on The Informer facebook.