RFS crews benefit from Paralympic memorabilia auction
THE Fine Flower and Iluka rural fire service brigades will each be able to buy some new equipment as the recipients of fundraising efforts at the 2019 Clarence Valley Sports Awards held at the GDSC on November 9.
In a spur of the moment decision the day after the devastating Nymboida fires, special guest Rodney Nugent auctioned off two cherished items of memorabilia from the Seoul and Barcelona Paralympics.
He requested half the money raised go to his local brigade at Lake Cathie on the Mid North Coast, who in October saved the clubhouse of Lake Cathie Junior Rugby League club, of which Nugent is the president. He ordered the other half to go to brigades in the Clarence Valley.
The auction, led by award nominee and part-time auctioneer Ben McLennan from the Grafton Ghosts, fetched more than $1200, the money was split and after extra donations including the $500 prize from Telstra Team of the Year winners Grafton Ghosts First Grade, the Clarence Valley Sports Awards was left with $1200 to donate to local brigades.
"We decided to put all 37 of the Clarence Valley brigades into a hat and draw out two who will each receive $600 towards what they need most for their brigade," Daily Examiner editor and Clarence Valley Sports Awards committee member Bill North said.
Clarence Valley RFS superintendent Stuart Watts had the honour of drawing out the two brigades.
"Firefighters don't do it for rewards, but the support certainly is a pat on the back, boosts morale and goes towards building a better organisation," Supt Watts said.
The Fine Flower RFS crew was engaged at Ewingar when the Long Gully Fire wreaked havoc in early October, and has also been involved in defending the Washpool fire.
"Fine Flower gets very little opportunity to raise funds so I'm sure the brigade will use it wisely," Supt Watts said.
Fine Flower RFS captain Warwick Chevalley was grateful and said he would consult his brigade before confirming how the money would be used.
"It's a big surprise," Fine Flower RFS captain Warwick Chevalley said. "All the community have been very supportive of what the Rural Fire Service has done, which has been appreciated by all the members."
"We were at Ewingar the day the houses were destroyed up there, and the Washpool fire came through our country here and burnt it.
"Most of us never seen fires so dangerous and erratic."
Iluka RFS was at the ready to defend the seaside village when the Myall Creek Fire threatened several Lower Clarence communities last month.
"We had to stay home because we had the visitor from the Richmond River that we didn't want," Iluka RFS captain John Nolan said.
"I feel ashamed to accept it because we got off lightly and escaped the worst part."
The Iluka brigade assisted at Yamba during the Shark Creek fire in September, and Mr Nolan has also been involved with the catering brigade.
He said the $600 will be put together with other funds raised from a community event organised by Iluka Golf Club and Iluka Woombah Rotary Club last month to purchase a thermal imaging camera.
"We're a village brigade," Mr Nolan said.
"They're useful for detecting heat sources in wall cavities. Fire & Rescue use them, but they are at least half an hour or more from us, so we or Woombah RFS are the ones who have to attend a house fire.