A group of volunteer firefighters from the Rural Fire Service Yarrahapinni Stuarts Point Brigade presented Eric Rogers with his 60 year Long Service Medal, recognising his six decades of dedication to the service of the community on Friday July 12.
Eric, now 86, has been a member of the Yarrahapinni Stuarts Point Brigade since 1957, giving almost 62 years of continuous service to the Rural Fire Service (RFS).
He was elected deputy captain in 1958, a position he has held continuously to this day. He also took on the role of secretary, equipment officer and training officer.
His participation in the RFS over the years has not been limited to his own brigade, he was a founding member of the Community Engagement Unit which later formed as a brigade in 2016. Within this brigade, Eric has passed on his knowledge to community members and local school groups.
Over the years Eric has formed a group of brigade members for Clean Up Australia Day. He also organises the annual fire hydrant checks and clean up throughout the area of Stuarts Point.
In 2002 the Yarrahapinni Stuarts Point Brigade awarded Eric with his Life Membership in recognition of his service and in 2009 he was awarded the National Medal for his outstanding and conscientious service to the NSW RFS for 50 years.
Prior to the brigade's 50th anniversary in 2003 Eric researched the historical meeting minutes of the brigade and produced a thorough record of the brigade's history. This was updated ten years later for the 60th anniversary and was published in the Bush Fire Bulletin. Through his own experience, Eric has also been able to document and preserve the brigade's history.
Eric recently became unwell and missed, for the first time, the monthly brigade meeting. His fellow Yarrahapinni Stuarts Point Brigade members knew they had to do something special to acknowledge Eric's service to the brigade and the community.
"It didn't sit right with his friends in the brigade that he wasn't there, he always has been a strong member and leader of the brigade," RFS Lower North Coast zone manager Lachlann Ison said.
"They wanted to do something special for him after all these years."
A group of 10 RFS members visited Eric in hospital on Friday to present him with his 60 year Long Service Medal.
"He had no idea. The medical staff and his family knew and as we started to come into the room he was really excited to see everyone," Mr Ison said.
"He was really taken back, it was a pretty emotional experience for everyone.
"He's a terrific man and everyone felt he needed to be acknowledged for his service over the last 62 years."
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