The sense of shared camaraderie and service was palpable as past and present volunteer firefighters gathered at the Lake Hawea Community Centre on Saturday to mark 50 years of the Lake Hawea Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Celebrations were rescheduled several times this year, because of Covid restrictions.
Members shared stories from the five decades throughout the evening, between performances by Invercargill-based band Little Green Men.
Master of ceremonies Lorne Capell opened the evening’s speeches by acknowledging the firefighters and the families.
"We are united in our willingness and dedication to serve this community ... as firefighters — or the families of firefighters, because you have given and sacrificed as much to support those who go running out the door at a moment’s notice.
"We have had 50 years of good times, sad times and times of many more emotions. Sadly, there are many that can’t join us here tonight and they live long in our hearts," Mr Capell said.
She started in the brigade in May 1979, and rose through the ranks and became station officer in 1989.
In July 1993, she became the first female chief fire officer in the New Zealand Fire Service.
Lake Hawea Volunteer Fire Brigade founding member Dick Cotter and current Chief Fire Officer Brent Arthur were invited to present the honorary membership to Ms Hewson’s family.
Son Trevor Hewson, who also served in the brigade, thanked the brigade for the honour.
Former Lake Hawea firefighter and current United Fire Brigades Association (UFBA) New Zealand president Amber Hollis acknowledged the fire brigade’s impact.
"I wouldn’t be the firefighter I am today without the foundation of the Lake Hawea brigade. The brigade has been the centre of this community for 50 years and the members have supported the community in their time of need and done it selflessly.
"Please be proud of what you do and have pride in your fire family," she said.
By: Aspen Bruce