Service to brigade recognised

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Dedication ... Chris Neason and her husband, Mike, celebrate Chris's gold star for 25 years of service to the Cust Volunteer Fire Brigade. PHOTO: KAREN CASEY PHOTOGRAPHER.

By RACHEL MACDONALD

Streamers and bunting adorned the Cust Fire Station on Saturday night, as the village’s volunteer brigade came together to celebrate its service awards evening.

Top of the bill was Chris Neason, awarded a gold star for her 25 years of dedication to the station.

She joined the crew in March 1994 and at no time has she ever felt disadvantaged by often being the only woman on the truck, she said.

“We’re all in this together. I might not be six foot tall and built, but that’s not a problem when you’re working as part of a team,” she said.

“We’ve lived over the road from the station for a long time. (Husband) Mike had always seemed to enjoy being a part of the brigade, and every time I heard the siren go off, I thought perhaps I could be useful too.

“So, once the boys were old enough, I joined up as well.”

The awards – one certificate and a range of silver bars and gold bars – were also handed out to other brigade members in recognition of three years’ to 37 years’ service.

Almost all of the brigade’s 23 members turned out in uniform, supported by friends, family, and some of the big names in Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s Canterbury rural division, a couple of local body politicians, along with Waimakariri Mayor David Ayers.

Brigade chief fire officer Peter Clements noted in opening festivities that there were four past and present Cust chief fire officers, from across the decades, in the room.