By Bonny Burrows
For the first time in its 91-year history, an Upper Ferntree Gully Fire Brigade volunteer has clocked up half a century of service.
Ex-captain Garry Lee was presented with his 50-year service medal at the brigade’s annual award night on 11 November.
Mr Lee was praised by the brigade’s current captain Peter Smith as an integral member of the team.
“We’re very fortunate to have Garry in the brigade,” Mr Smith said.
“He’s held every position in the brigade from the top to the bottom, bottom to top and all those in between.”
Mr Smith said Garry’s 50 years of service were a rarity, as the average volunteer spent just five years in the CFA.
“Yet Garry’s been here for more than half of the brigade’s 91-year life,” he said.
“To multiply the average five years by 10 is one hell of a bloody achievement.”
Along with the 50-year service medal, Mr Lee was presented with a replica model of the first firetruck he ever drove.
Family members also attended the presentation to help celebrate Mr Lee’s big milestone.
Speaking on his time with Upper Ferntree Gully, Mr Lee said he wasn’t done with CFA just yet.
“I’ve enjoyed these 50 years and intend to stay longer,” Mr Lee said
“I’m going to try for 55, so let’s see how I go.”
The 11 November presentation evening also made sure to recognise Australian servicemen and women with a full Remembrance Day service.
Awards were also presented to Daniel Abraham, Craig Ballingall, Rod Clark, Royden Cochrane, Chris Lewis and Brett Lodding for five years of service; James Lenihan and Michael Hamilton for a decade; and David Clark and David Willoughby for 20 years’ commitment.
Emily Peel and Christine Willman were awarded this year’s Brian Potter Captain’s Appreciation Award, presented in memory of fallen firefighter and ex-chief officer Brian Potter. Chris Lind won Best First Year Firefighter, Craig Ballingall took home Utility Firefighter of the Year and Cedric Desloires took home the top gong of Upper Ferntree Gully Fire Brigade Firefighter of the Year.