COMMITMENT, doing good for the community, transferrable skills and friendships are just some of the keywords that members from the Coolum SES used to describe what it meant to them to be volunteer members of the State Emergency Service.
The group meets each Tuesday night from 7-9pm and at their September 26 meeting, Group Leader Brendan Jones was praised by his Coolum orange family for his recent Life Member award which was presented to him in recognition of his 40 years of volunteer service.
Brendan said it was a real honour to be recognised and that he joined the SES as it was something that he thought was the right fit for him.
“I was young, and I had some restrictions as to what I thought I could do so I joined the SES because one of the things I realised was that you didn’t have to be a rocket scientist to join and to give back to the community,” Brendan said.
After time in other parts of Australia including North Queensland, Brendan landed in Coolum and realised how great the area is and decided to stay.
Praised by the SES for his mentorship and guidance it’s no wonder that the Coolum SES members are happy to turn up each week.
“We have 30 members at the moment and the fact that people turn up, we appreciate that so much and once a month I like to say thanks to everyone for being here. We have members that give up their time and choose to be here and in my opinion, that’s a big deal.”
Brendan explained that what keeps members coming back is the friendships and skills that are learned.
“There’s camaraderie here and one of the biggest things about joining the SES is the transferrable skills you learn which you can take into all other aspects of your life – simple things like communication skills for example.”
Those transferrable skills have served Brendan well with an SES spokesperson stating that Brendan modelled exceptional behaviour towards all people.
“Brendan’s passion for the community and the SES shines through, whether in a conversation with a public member on how to prepare for a disaster or a training instruction to a member.
“He is particularly encouraging of new members and demonstrates great patience in explaining concepts and introducing the world of Emergency Management. Several members have commented that they would never have dared dream of being a floodboat operator if it had not been for Brendan’s encouragement and his willingness to take extra time with his members as a Group Leader and help them build their skills and confidence.”
Coolum member Tim Eldridge who was awarded the Member of the Year North Coast Region which stretches from Bundaberg to Caloundra and out to the South Burnett also sang Brendan’s praises.
“The big story is Brendan and I just think that 40 years of service to the community is a really big deal.
“We are all about mates helping mates and we all get along and we have put a tremendous amount of time into making sure we have enjoyable experiences here each Tuesday night and it seems to be working,” Tim said.
Tim and Brendan were also joined by Tim’s daughter Alexandra who also won an award for her service as a young SES volunteer and said that it was seeing her dad in the SES that made her sign up.
“Seeing dad come home from training and being so inspired I thought that it was something that I would like to do,” Alexandra said.
“I like that we are a community and there’s lots to learn. You are learning so many skills and it’s a serious job but it’s also fun.”
Tim explained that by joining the SES everyone was a winner.
“I’ve always described the SES as hobbies with a purpose – it is a hobby where you get to learn lots of skills and then put them into action and into a meaningful way for the community.”
The Coolum community collectively thanks Brendan Jones for his commitment, dedication and service and wishes him many more years of happy service stewarding the great team at the Coolum SES.
Do you think you would look good in orange, making new friends and helping out in the community? Then why not sign up for the SES.
For information on joining Coolum SES please visit www.qfes.qld.gov.au or visit the Coolum Facebook group by searching Coolum SES Group.
Joining the SES is free, and all uniforms and training are provided for by the organisation.