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Over 100 years of fire service honoured Two brothers – two gold stars

Last Saturday evening was an auspicious and joyful gathering at the Whitianga Fire Brigade. Two brothers were honoured by receiving their 50 years service gold star medals together – Gary Mangin known to everyone as Spida and Peter Mangin known to everyone as Grassy.
 |  Pauline Stewart  | 

National member of parliament, Scott Simpson, centre, was an invited guest for the gold star medal celebrations.

There are about 14,000 firefighters in the New Zealand Fire Brigade which has been in operation for about 146 years. When Spida was presented wth his medal, the large gathering of firefighters and distinguished guests from all over the region were reminded by Garry Stanley, Past President of the United Fire Brigade Association of NZ, that there are only 240 firefighters in New Zealand who have received such a medal prior.

I wonder if there ever was a presentation to two brothers at the same time among those 240 firefighters? This was a unique Kiwi occasion.

Spida had earned his fifty years service medal in October 2020, well over three years ago, but he chose to wait for his brother Grassy who would achieve fifty years in the Fire service in December 2023, Grassy had joined the Te Aroha Fire Brigade in December, 1973.

Spida had spoken earlier about postponing the time to receive his 50 years service medal.

“This is so Grassy and I can receive them together. It is worth waiting for. That’s the way it has always been for us. We are two brothers.”

In left foreground is Whitianga Chief Fire Officer Roly Chaney; Grassy Mangin, left, is accompanied by his two daughters.

Fire and Emergency NZ National Commander, Russel Wood was present as was National MP Scott Simpson, with John Grant representing the Thames Coromandel District Council.

Special mention was made by Derek Collier, Master of Celemonies and Deputy Fire Officer, of Merv George, Ex-Fire Chief, who would normally have been presenting the gold stars to these two officers and friends, but was absent due to health. It was heart warming to see so many family members of both brothers as well as Fire Brigade officers from across the Coromandel and the Waikato. There was a noticeable number of recruits in training, a good sign for the future whic has been carved out by the example of people like Spida and Grassy. Both men are still active in the Whitianga Fire Brigade Spida ‘s duties being Operation Support. This was definitely not a retirement occasion.

Spida Mangin, above, is accompanied by his partner, Karen for the Guard of Honour.

MERVYN GEORGE

As this issue went to press The Informer was notified that Mervyn had passed away on Sunday evening, 28 April. Our condolences to Greer and his family and the Whitianga fire brigade.