40 YEARS ON: Hero in orange awarded for lifetime of service
FOR 40 years, a life with the Warwick SES has meant leaving warm meals on the kitchen table, heading out the door with barely a moment's notice or coming face-to-face with some of our region's most shocking natural disasters, but John Newley wouldn't give it up for a second.
The Warwick local controller was recognised over the weekend for his four decades of volunteer involvement at the South Western Region's 2020 SES week ceremony.
Mr Newley said the passion all began when he decided to take his radio skills as a pastry cook to the Warwick group.
"I always say to people, when you join SES you gain skills for life," he said.
"Whether that's for work or day-to-day home life - first aid training is really just the tip of the iceberg."
During his time in the organisation, Mr Newley had manned travels in task forces across Queensland and NSW, and witnessed cyclones and floods like no other.
He'd also made memories and friends he'd keep for life.
"You see a lot of people at their worst and their best. Like when you see someone who's just lost their roof, and their face is full of gratitude towards you," he said.
"I've also been really lucky to gain good friends inside and outside of the unit. I like to say they're all part of my orange family."
Mr Newley wasn't the only big Warwick-related winner of the day with David Bennett also being awarded trainer of the year.
Starting out with the Warwick organisation in 2001, Mr Bennett said the award was a total surprise.
"Obviously it was very unexpected because I am a paid staff member but I've loved helping the community and giving back," Mr Bennett said.
"I love seeing people's faces after doing a job for them."
As a trainer, Mr Bennett has helped prepare SES groups for just about everything - from sandbagging to cutting people out of cars.
"There's been a lot of memories but land searches always stick in my mind," he said.
"Some end for the better and some for the worst."
- If you want to be a part of the Warwick SES, head down to the recruitment night tonight at the Alice St headquarters from 5.30pm.