Community Stalwarts Honoured

Bev Jordan Community Stalwarts Honoured

While being nominated for an Order of Australia Medal may have come as a surprise to Dennis and Margaret Mitchell, no-one else in the Hawkesbury area was surprised at all. community Stalwarts 

The OAMs for the Ebenezer couple is a reflection of the regard with which they are held within the community Stalwarts they have served for decades in a multiple of roles.

Both are life-long volunteers with the Rural Fire Service and before that the Civil Defence which became the SES.

Dennis, 79, has volunteered for 34 years with Ebenezer Rural Fire Service, where he has been Brigade Captain for 34 years as well as serving in other roles. He was also Captain of the Wilberforce RFS Brigade and gave over 20 years service with the SES.

Margaret, 74, has been treasurer of the Ebenezer RFS Brigade and Brigade Catering officer since 1989 and has held other roles including First Aid Officer and Call Out Officer. Her multiple roles with the Hawkesbury RFS Catering Unit include Senior Deputy Captain (since 2007) and executive member since 2014.

The couple’s community roles are wide reaching with Margaret a member of the CWA for 47 years and Dennis a volunteer at The Australiana Pioneer Village at Wilberforce for 40 years. Both have kept the doors open at Wilberforce School of Arts where Dennis has been Vice-President for 16 years and Margaret Bookings Officer.

Dennis is also Life Member of Hawkesbury Showground Committee and is a member of the Hawkesbury Cricket Association and Margaret has been a life Member of Hawkesbury Grade Cricket Club, since 2002. Dennis is also a Justice of the Peace.

Margaret says her pioneering family, the Cobcrofts, have known the Mitchells for generations. Their grandfathers played cricket against each other (Sackville and Wilberforce) and Dennis and Margaret would meet at cricket matches when their fathers and grandfathers played.

She was 24 and Dennis 29 when they married at St John’s Wilberforce. Margaret says they both came from families that “just rolled up their sleeves and helped” wherever help was needed which is why they always pitched in with the SES before moving to the RFS, helping in floods and fires and any situation where help was needed.

“We get satisfaction out of the help we can give people,” she says.

Volunteering has seen them work round the clock, . Dennis works during the day (on the fire ground or organising the crews) while Margaret works at night “supervising the feeding of the teams and packing the eskies of food”. During the 2019/2020 bushfires she clocked up 749 hours. During the floods she also helped Hawkesbury’s Helping Hands for 17 days by opening up the community hall for distressed people to come.

The couple have four children, two boys and two girls and 10 grandchildren.

“When I first got the letter (telling them about the OAM nominations) I thought someone was having a lend of us. We didn’t think that people like us got something like that,” said Margaret.

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