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Run remembers top guy

CARYN WIGMORE
Last updated 11:25 22/11/2012
POKER
BELANA WOOD

READY TO ROLL: Craig Swift, a Shelly Beach volunteer firefighter prepares for the traditional Five Station Poker Run.

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Firefighters paid tribute to fallen colleague Lou Keefe at an annual fundraiser for nor-west brigades.

A Helensville brigade member rode the late Mr Keefe's motorbike on the Five Station Poker Run- a regular event for Lou.

The respected firefighter died suddenly on October 3.

The Helensville station officer had served in the New Zealand Fire Service for 35 years as a volunteer. Thirty of those years were at Helensville.

Event founder and Kumeu brigade deputy chief fire officer Stephen Sparnon says Lou was the rider in charge at most of the poker runs.

"He would start with a good pace and keep everyone under control. Lou would lead us into Helensville station with a big smile."

During the run, firefighters held a fundraising sausage sizzle at Helensville brigade to help Lou's family.

"I saw people put in $20 notes and $50 notes for a sausage which was awesome," Mr Sparnon says. "A few of us were having thoughts for Lou on the day. He was a top guy."

The seventh poker run saw 163 motorbikes cruise between five volunteer fire stations in the nor-west.

The event raised $4900 for LED lighting on the fire appliance at Muriwai station.

Firefighters from Helensville, Shelly Beach and Muriwai had to abandon the run to tackle a forest blaze at South Head.

"Sometimes we sacrifice the things we really like for the good of the community," Mr Sparnon says.

"The first focus is putting out fires and protecting the community and after that it's whatever we can fit into our spare leisure time," he says.

Motorcyclists from as far away as Dargaville cruised a circuit from Muriwai station, scoring spot prizes and a hot meal.

At each of the stations, bikers were given a playing card and the person with the best poker hand won a major prize.

Sunny weather yielded dry roads for the riders.

An account has been opened in Lou Keefe's name to help the family. Donations can be made at any ASB, account 12-3139-0089867-50.

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- Norwest News

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