Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pride of the Illawarra - Volunteer winner

The inaugural Pride of the Illawarra Emergency Services awards were held on the 7th May 2011 at City Beach, Wollongong.

The event was organised by the Rotary Clubs of the Illawarra and was about acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of local Emergency Services personnel. Seven NSW emergency services (Police, Fire, Ambulance, SES, RFS, VRA and Marine Rescue) all participated in the event with nominations being called from each service. The SES (State Emergency Service) put four nominees forward for the awards.

The four nominees, their partners, friends and Service dignitaries were among the 300 people that attended the awards dinner. It was easy to see that all nominees shared a common interest and a love for those field and to be selected as a finalist in this company of people was a great honour.

As the night unfolded each finalist was presented to the audience with a short bio of their achievements being read out. Each finalist (12 in total) was presented with a certificate of achievement at this time.

After a lavish 3-course dinner, the major part of the awards night got underway with each Emergency Service being awarded their “Pride of the Illawarra” service winner. For the SES that accolade was given to me. To hear my name read out as the SES winner was one of shock, amazement and ecstatic joy. I received a nice plaque and gift voucher for winning the SES category.

There were still 2 awards remaining, the overall winner (paid) and the overall winner (volunteer). I remember sitting in my seat thinking very nervously that I had a 1 in 4 chance of winning this… Holy shit, within minutes my greatest achievement had become reality. My name had been read out again, this time as the overall winner (volunteer) for the inaugural “Pride of the Illawarra”. The shock, emotion and euphoria were far greater this time as our table erupted into applause and cheers. On stage I was presented with a larger, more impressive plaque, another gift voucher and far great recognition. This time I was asked to say a few words, which I must say I stumbled and stuttered my way through due to the emotion I was feeling.

The rest of the night seemed to float on by with me having a grin from ear to ear. Countless people came up to congratulate me on my achievement while I was never far from someone snapping a photo of me.

Since the awards night I have ridden the rollercoaster of joy that comes with such recognition. I am truly honoured to receive such an award. Volunteer of the Year has a nice ring to it.

I have to thank my wife and family, my peers for nominating me and to the Rotary Clubs of the Illawarra for having such a vision.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Weekend in the City

After spending the Easter/ANZAC weekend on work standby I wanted to take the family away. Our original plan was to take the caravan up to the Lane Cove Caravan Park, but the prediction of wet weather dampened our idea of camping in the caravan. Still wanting the get away we chose to stay at the Formule 1 motel at Homebush Bay.

We headed up to Sydney early on the Saturday morning where we headed straight over to the CITO event in the Lane Cove National Park. Here we met up with a few familiar faces and assisted in the clean up around the river. The onset of rain was our signal to leave and from here we headed over to our motel.

The idea of staying in a motel always has our kids excited and today was no exception. Upon checking in we were pleased to see our room had good views of the Olympic area and the kids quickly took dibs on which bed was their’s.

For the rest of the afternoon we took the kids around to the Aquatic Centre where we all had fun playing and swimming in the activities on offer. We only left when we did cause we’d all turned into wrinkle prunes. However what it did do was wear out the kids sufficiently enough that they were almost ready for bed. Which, after showers and an easy dinner that’s what they did. This allowed Leonie and I to have a relaxing night together.

Sunday and it was family fun day on the public transport, which we took full advantage of. We boarded a Rivercat at Ryldemere for the one-stop trip into the city. The kids were so excited with our water transport and were constantly spying new things out the window, meanwhile Leonie and I were awe of the money which adjoins the foreshore and harbour. We were soon heading under the harbour bridge for the first time and soon after were docking at Circular Quay.
After a short stop we were on our way around to Pyrmont Point where we had to time to have a quick look around and do a spot of cache maintenance. Back on a ferry its back to Circular Quay where after a change of ferry we were on our way to Cockatoo Island. This was to be our first ever visit to this inner city island and it was very rewarding.

Once on the island the kids got right into the kids tour while I completed one of the few remaining virtual caches still available. The weather was perfect for a day out in the sun and our time on the island was absolutely wonderful. We checked out the camping for a possible future adventure and took a number of great family pics with the harbour as our backdrop.

Regrettably it was soon time to leave and after another Rivercat ride we were soon at Rydalmere. From here it was an hour trip home in the car and the end of a great weekend.