Volunteers who attended at the Cowper bus crash should be officially recognised.
Volunteers who attended at the Cowper bus crash should be officially recognised. John Gass

Waiting for thanks

THE Cowper bus crash killed 21 people, injured 22 others and ruined the lives of countless more, but for SES volunteers who attended that day there has never been any official individual recognition of their deeds.

That oversight is a source of constant anger for the man who sent them out to the Pacific Highway roadside at 4am on October 20, 1989.

At the time Bryan Robins was the executive officer for the Grafton City SES and he could count himself as one of the people whose lives the crash ruined, even if it took more than a decade for his life to unravel.

"I was medically retired from the service with post traumatic stress disorder about 12 years after the crash," he said.

It is the way the authorities, including SES head office and politicians, have ignored the volunteers for more than two decades that makes his blood boil.

"Next year it will be the 25th anniversary of the crash and I am starting to think nothing will ever happen," he said.

In June last year Mr Robins wrote to SES Commissioner Murray Kear about the possibility of recognition for the volunteers who attended both the Cowper crash and the Clybucca crash of two coaches two months later.

"At first he appeared keen and even mentioned the 25th anniversary to be a good time for it," he said.

"I thought 'you beauty' and wrote back with my suggestions. Then I got a letter back and he'd changed his mind. It suddenly was in the too hard basket."

Mr Robins said there was nothing too hard about recognising the volunteers.

"They said it was too hard to ensure everyone who was there would get an award," he said.

"I'm pretty sure I could contact them. I know some of them are dead, but their families would love to have something to show for it."

Mr Robins said the efforts of the politicians at the time were also lamentable.

"I can remember they flew up to the scene and actually got in our way," he said.

"Then they said how they would make sure the highway was fixed. We know how that has gone."

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