It was an emotional day at the ‘thank you’ event held at the Bay Islands Golf Club.
The event was organised by ‘thankful’ island resident Eileen Irving and others following the recent devastating Macleay Island fire event.
Ironically, as the event was being held, the islands were being lashed by gale force winds with nearby Russell Island on full alert after an even more devastating bush fire event.
Grateful island residents turned up with a fund raising barbecue run by Golf Club chef Andrew Kennar, raffles, and jumping castle for the kids!
The event was attended by Redland City Councillor Mark Edwards, Member for Redlands Matt McEachan, with a surprise visit by opposition spokesperson for police, fire and emergencies, the Hon Tim Mander.
Representatives of all island brigades including Lamb, Karragarra and Russell were also in attendance along with island volunteer fire fighters, their families and island families who wished to say ‘thank you’.
As well as entertainment by musicians and the Macleay Island Ukulele Group and fund raising, a special surprise presentation was made to the Macleay Island Volunteer Fire Fighters Chief Officer Ross McBride.
In presenting the Certificate of Appreciation on behalf of Redland City Council, Cr Edwards praised the island fire fighting volunteers for their dedication and skills in containing the huge blaze that razed 30 hectares of pristine bushland off High Central Road on the western side of the island.
“Their efforts were outstanding and at times, critical. It was a magnificent effort.”
Ross McBride said island volunteer fire fighters ‘do it’ for the community.
“And I know we could not do it were it not for the support from our families. I certainly could not do it without the support of my wife,” he said
The impact of the effort by the firies from all the islands and the mainland was brought home by event organiser Eileen Irving.
With tears in her eyes, she recognised she would have lost her home were not for the efforts of the island fire fighters.
“They were magnificent. I know I would have lost my home had they not been there.
“They even said at one stage I might lose it.
“Then a helicopter came overhead and dropped a wave of water and it virtually put the worst part of the fire out at my place. It was magnificent. They were magnificent,” Eileen said, as she fought back tears.
Member for Redlands, Matt McEachan, was also full of praise for the fire fighters and then introduced the LNP spokesperson for fire, police and emergency services, former Rugby League referee Tim Mander.
He made some important points about the ‘firies’.
“Many people volunteer and give back to their communities.
“Few, however, do what they ‘firies’ do.
“They literally put their lives on the line defending our homes. They put themselves between the worst of fires and our property.
“They certainly did this here on Macleay Island and are currently doing it on Russell Island.
“Not only that, they give up family events such as birthdays and holidays and major events such as Christmas Day to do their job, as volunteers,” he pointed out.
Such was the drama of the day that during the celebrations, all the island volunteers were put on full alert and were required to leave early and get to Russell Island to assist in controlling containment lines following the huge wind ‘blow-up’ on the day - such is the life of a volunteer fire fighter!
• Fire Officer Ross McBride with Cr Mark Edwards, Matt McEachan, Tim Mander, Eileen Irving and representatives of all the Bay Island Volunteer Fire Brigades.