IRENE Cracknell is a giver, not a taker, she says.
It is the best way she can describe why she has spent 30 years as a State Emergency Service volunteer.
“I just really believe that if you live in a community then you should contribute to it,” she said.
“That’s been my philosophy.”
The Rutherglen grandmother was one of about 80 people recognised when the SES held its annual North East awards ceremony in Benalla on Saturday.
She was one of several Rutherglen unit members to receive service medals.
The standing she holds in the unit became clear when The Border Mail began speaking to other volunteers.
“Have you spoken to Irene yet?” was asked a few times.
Mrs Cracknell said she was “very pleased” she was able to volunteer for 30 years.
“I became the first female active member that did road accident rescues,” she said.
“I wouldn’t have been able to without the help of family and my employers, who have all been incredibly supportive over the years in allowing me to be able to do those things.”
Mrs Cracknell said her husband, Bruce, had not long retired after 30 years’ service.
It’s in the blood.
“My daughter Jennie is an SES member and my granddaughter Amy is a member also.”
Hume region operations manager Neil Payn said it was crucial to recognise the commitment of volunteers given many of them “put in hundreds of hours annually”.
“We had awards ranging from 10 years’ service up to one who was 55 years service.”
Mr Payn said the commitment shown by the volunteers was all about them “looking after their communities”.
“Most people don’t do it for money, they don’t do it for recognition, they do it just to help out,” he said.
The awards included National Emergency Medals for volunteers who worked through the 2009 bushfires.
Twenty-five year service medal recipient and Rutherglen unit member John Terrill said he was “very pleased” with the honour.
“You enjoy working with other people, with your fellow members and it’s great doing practical things like roof work after storms,” he said.
Mr Terrill said attending car accidents was a negative side of the job.
“That’s especially when you get fatal accidents, which are not so good,” he said.
Chris Pertzel, a 20-years service medal recipient, was inspired to join by Mrs Cracknell — her sister.
“She called in one night in the orange overalls on her way to training and I looked at my husband and said ‘what do you reckon if I go too?’,” she said.
“He said ‘go on’.”
Mrs Pertzel said she especially enjoyed being part of a close-knit unit.
“There’s a lot of comradeship there and you’re helping the community.”