Voice of Real Australia: Thanking decades of service to local communities

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Clockwise from top: William 'Bill' Johnson and Albert Newton; Colin Apps and Wayne Evans, and Bob Brown and Brian Melville.

Clockwise from top: William 'Bill' Johnson and Albert Newton; Colin Apps and Wayne Evans, and Bob Brown and Brian Melville.

When it comes to country living - long-service, be it as a volunteer or in a career - seems to go hand-in-hand.

People build up their lives around their community - and of late there's been a lot of these everyday heroes getting their final farewells after decades of service.

Just a couple of weekends ago, I joined my local community in NSW's Blue Mountains in a thank you fitting of these social distancing times, standing at the top of my driveway, waving enthusiastically as two of our long-serving Rural Fire Service members were driven down the main drag in the fire truck.

Albert Newton and William 'Bill' Johnson celebrated 70 years each of service with the Bilpin RFS at the ceremony on June 20, the town lining the very long main road, Bells Line of Road, still raw with scars from the December Gospers Mountain fire, with balloons, signs and people all in their honour.

The NSW South Coast also recently farewelled two long-serving community members, ambulance officers with 74 years' experience between them, Colin Apps and Wayne Evans from the Huskisson Ambulance Station.

At an event to mark their retirements on June 25, station officer Brett Crowe said the station was lucky to have them.

"They have decades of clinical experience - if they haven't done it themselves, they've seen it," he said.

Sticking with the South Coast, and two older blokes showing no signs of slowing down are Bob Brown, 91, and Brian Melville, 85, who lead the charge at their local walking group.

The pair are among a group of around a dozen regular participants from the Keith Payne VC Veteran's Benefit Group who meet each Friday morning for Operation Walk to Talk which is back in action after lockdown.

So, take a leaf out of these great blokes books and get among your local community - you never know what you might get out of it.

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