IT was so appropriate First Responders Day coincided with the naming of the 2021 Shoalhaven Emergency Services Community Awards (SESCA).
SESCA is the brainchild of four Rotary Clubs in the Shoalhaven - Berry, Bomaderry, Milton-Ulladulla and Nowra.
It is the third time the awards have been organised in the Shoalhaven Local Government Area, to recognise local heroes from the police and the six emergency service agencies that are so active in the local area.
The award winners were announced at a function at the Dunn Lewis Centre in Ulladulla.
SESCA Committee chairman Phil Presgrave said the awards are also in keeping with Rotary's motto of 'Service Above Self'.
"The awards acknowledge and celebrate the community service of NSW Police and Emergency Services personnel in the Shoalhaven, above and beyond their normal service activities," he said.
"We are very much appreciative of their rapid responses when they are required to do so."
While individual services have specific internal awards, SESCA is the only time that NSW Emergency Services personnel, both paid and volunteer, are recognised in a combined awards program in this local government area.
While individual agency award winners were announced, there were also respective Shoalhaven Officer Of The Year awards.
Shoalhaven NSW Police Officer (sworn category) of the Year was Senior Constable Kyle Wilson.
Shoalhaven Officer of the Year (salaried category) was NSW Fire and Rescue's John Dun AFSM.
The Shoalhaven Officer of the Year (volunteer category) was NSW Rural Fire Service's Ronald (John) Ashton ASFM OAM.
Individual category award winners were -
NSW Ambulance - Tara Picker.
Fire and Rescue NSW - John Dun.
NSW Police - Senior Constable Kyle Wilson.
Marine Rescue NSW - William (Pat) Welch.
NSW Rural Fire - Ronald (John) Ashton ASFM OAM.
State Emergency Service NSW - Allan Pheeney.
Category winners will automatically go forward as nominees for the respective state awards.
Tara Picker - NSW Ambulance - For more than three years, Tara has volunteered her time as a presenter in the driver education program for Year 11 students from Ulladulla High School operated under the Milton Ulladulla Rotary Club. In the program, students learn about driver safety, emergency response and what to do in case of an accident. Given the demands of her day job, Tara's commitment to such a program is worthy.
John Dun AFSM - Fire and Rescue NSW - John has used his vast knowledge and contacts within the broader firefighting and Shoalhaven communities to promote initiatives that have had far reaching community benefits; particularly his ability to relate to the local indigenous community through the Auntie Jean Program. John's genuine empathy and engagement with the local Aboriginal community has resulted in a home fire safety initiative being implemented at Wreck Bay. John is currently a team leader at Opstar which is at the leading edge of aviation rescue and recovery. He has used his knowledge and contacts in this role to educate emergency services in their knowledge and understanding of, and access to, local capabilities and resources. A consummate professional in his dedication to training and community awareness/safety, his high personal qualities and leadership skills have been recognised by his peers.
William (Pat) Welch - Marine Rescue - In addition to his role in Marine Rescue, Pat is a member of the Culburra Beach Progress Association, and has been for the past 15 years. He is the editor, publisher and distributor of their magazine the Culburra Beach Bugle. This effort requires many hours of work each month with Pat being pretty much the sole worker on this publication. Pat also works behind the scenes working on administrative tasks.
Senior Constable Kyle Wilson - NSW Police - In addition to his police duties, Kyle Wilson has been the club captain of the Milton Ulladulla Soccer Club for a number of years. He has also been a regional representative on committees, where roles have included coaching and mentoring young players. He is also an active member with the running and triathlon club, and local bicycle club, and he has taken on administration roles in these clubs. He is an elite mountain bike rider, triathlete and runner, winning many age related national titles and is devoted to his sport, family and community.
Ronald (John) Ashton - ASFM OAM - NSW RFS - John is a former member of the Royal Australian Navy and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the Military Division in the 1978 Australia Day Honours list for 'Exceptional performance of duty requiring technical competence'. John became a Legatee in 2006 committing to volunteer service for Legacy, calling on and caring for widows of deceased defence veterans. His voluntary commitment to Australia, to the NSW Rural Fire Service and to Legacy clearly demonstrates "Service above Self". His proven record of resourcefulness, leadership and professionalism and is eminently regarded by his peers and superiors in the NSW RFS and in the community.
Allan Pheeney - SES - Allan is a dedicated member of the Nowra Swimming Club, joining the club as a non-swimmer in 2006. In 2007/2008, he took on the role of treasurer of the club and also became the barbecue cook for the Friday night pointscore events and the annual Nowra Swimming Club carnivals. Allan has been recognised for his ongoing commitment to the club on a number of occasions, including in 2008 when he was presented the Frank Rutter Award for Club Person of the Year and in 2016 was awarded life membership. He continued as treasurer until the end of the 2018/2019 season. Allan is a wonderful ambassador for NSW SES and the Shoalhaven community.