It was an emotional send off when Hills SES members gathered for their annual awards ceremony on Wednesday and said goodbye to their long-standing Controller Evelyn Lester.
The newly appointed State Emergency Services (SES) Commissioner Carlene York, just six days into her job, was joined by NSW Police and emergency services Minister David Elliott, Federal Minister Alex Hawke, MPs Ray Williams, Robyn Preston and Mark Taylor, Deputy Mayor Reena Jethi and several councillors and special guests for the ceremony.
“I am very proud to be here,” the Commissioner told the audience. She said to Evelyn Lester: “You are held in such high regard, you will be missed.”
Ms Lester stepped down for personal reasons following 16 years as an SES volunteer, the last 11 as The Hills Controller. Under her leadership the Hills Unit grew from 44 members to over 200. The award’s night was one of several thank you events.
Federal Minister Alex Hawke said he was “in awe” of what she had achieved.
Hills Shire Mayor, Dr Michelle Byrne spoke at a special council event said she was saddened to see her go, but was honoured to have had the opportunity to work alongside the local SES controller.
“She’s a true leader whose actions have inspired and motivated others to do the incredible. She has also helped to increase local SES membership and has trained, guided and nurtured countless emergency service volunteers.”
195 YEARS SERVICE
Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said the awards ceremony was a very important way of not only saying thank you to the volunteers but to their families.
“Presenting these awards is an acknowledgment to the volunteers whose accumulated wisdom and experience is irreplaceable,” said Mr Elliott.
In the last three years, NSW SES volunteers from the Hills Unit responded to more than 4,200 calls for help, including hailstorms in 2017 and 2018 which involved volunteers from across NSW.
On Wednesday 19 volunteers from the Hills Unit were presented with Long Service medals.
Two members, Damian Hofman and Ryan Collin were awarded a Commissioner’s Commendation for Service, recognising an exemplary contribution to the NSW SES.
A 30-year service medal was presented to Graham Cleary. NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York said: “NSW SES volunteers selflessly give up their time to protect their communities.
“These awards, representing a combined total of 195 years’ service, are a recognition of the dedication these volunteers show every day.”
NATIONAL MEDAL and 15 Year long service medal: Faye Brock, Delma Parker, Jim Wilson
LONG SERVICE MEDALS
30 YEARS : Graham Cleary
20 YEARS : Tim Randall and Ray Robinson
10 YEARS : John Leotta, Anne Parfitt, Collin Ryan, Colin Walsh.
5 YEARS : Paul Davis, Karen Hoens, Colin Lepangier- Huntris, Oliver Nielson-Jones, Mathew Knight, Phillip Mathews and Peter Reid.