Thursday, 26 November 2020


Four Community Service Medals presented in Hahei

As they do every year, the Hahei community gathered on Friday evening last week to celebrate the achievements of several members of the Hahei Volunteer Fire Brigade. On the lawn in front of the Hahei Community Centre, Ian Carter, Hahei Chief Fire Officer, presented several brigade members with three-year certificates, five-year medals and additional two-year service bars.

What made the gathering more special is the fact that four current and former brigade members - Russell Cochrane, Graeme Cooper, Laurie Donovan and Ian Russell - were presented with Thames-Coromandel District Council Community Service Medals. Graeme, Laurie and Ian were also presented with life memberships of the United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand.

The Community Services medals were presented by TCDC deputy-mayor and Mercury Bay Ward councillor, Murray Mclean. The life memberships were presented by fellow Mercury Bay Ward councillor, Tony Fox.

Russell Cochrane sadly passed away in October 2017. TCDC deputy-mayor, Murray McLean presented his Community Service Medal posthumously to his partner, Wendy Helms. “Russ joined the Hahei Volunteer Fire Brigade on 10 February 1994,” says Peter Harrison, brigade secretary. “During his time with the brigade, he held the roles of station officer, senior firefighter, deputy fire chief and training officer. He joined the brigade within a few months of Graeme Cooper, who were awarded with a Gold Star for 25 years of service as a firefighter earlier this year, and through all those years it was always the intention that Graeme and Russ would celebrate their Gold Star presentations together. Unfortunately, this was not to be.”

Qualified firefighter, Graeme Cooper, joined the Hahei Volunteer Brigade on 1 December 1993. “Graeme continues to be a reliable, well qualified member of our brigade and was awarded an in-house brigade life membership,” says Peter. “His Gold Star for a quarter of a century of service to the community was very well deserved.”

Laurie Donovan joined the Hahei Volunteer Brigade on 24 November 1999. Ill health forced his resignation on 22 November 2014. “Laurie spent 15 years with our brigade, with duties as a firefighter and pump operator” says Peter. “It’s my recollection during my early days in Hahei, that whenever the brigade was called out, for whatever reason, it was always Laurie up front as driver of the fire appliance, with his honest demeanour and big smile, along with his no nonsense approach as and when necessary.” Laurie is also a life member of the brigade.

“Ian Russell joined the Hahei Volunteer Fire Brigade at a time I’m still trying to determine,” says Peter. “He took on the role of secretary/treasurer, having come from an accountancy background. He occupied the role for many years. However, things change, and somewhere along the way he decided to downsize the role, and collared a newbie in the Hahei area, namely myself, to take on the role of secretary. A wise man. Ian continued as treasurer for a number of years, but after finding yet another newbie to take on the treasurer role, he resigned to finally enjoy retirement.” Like Graeme, and Laurie, Ian is a life member of the brigade.

Pictured: Mercury Bay Ward councillors, Murray McLean (on the left) and Tony Fox (on the right) with the recipients of Thames-Coromandel District Council  Community Service Awards on Friday last week - Ian Russell (next to Murray), Wendy Helms, Laurie Donovan and Graeme Cooper (next to Tony).


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