It was fitting that the Wellsford Community Centre was the venue when Colin Greenwood was honoured for 25 years service to the volunteer fire brigade.
That was where he married Lisa 19 years ago just before she also joined the local brigade.
And barely a year later in 1992 it was the scene of the biggest fire Mr Greenwood attended.
"I was first through the door," he recalls.
Realising they were in a perilous situation with a backdraught imminent, Mr Greenwood and his accompanying firefighters charged out a sidedoor just as the hall’s front windows blew out in the explosion.
The hall was destroyed and a new Wellsford Community Centre later replaced it.
On Saturday a guard of honour formed by the many firefighters among more than 200 people present welcomed Mr Greenwood and fellow firefighter of 25 years Chris Brown to the Wellsford brigade’s awards night.
Both received gold stars for their service.
Mr Greenwood served nearly all his time with Wellsford, while Mr Brown was in many brigades throughout the North Island, including Warkworth and spent the last five years at Wellsford.
They were congratulated by various fire region and association representatives and Rodney mayor Penny Webster.
Their wives also received tributes.
Mr Greenwood’s wife Lisa fights fires and attends crashes and other emergencies at his side.
"After we were married I said to Lisa that if I had to get out of bed at 2am she might as well too," he says.
She joined up at the next meeting and has served 19 years.
And Mr Greenwood’s brother Steven is due for his gold star in about five years.
"I’ve promised to stick around until both of them get it," Mr Greenwood says.
Mr and Mrs Greenwood paid tribute to Wellsford fire chief Jim Bowmar for his support, giving him and wife Heather two nights accommodation at the Taipa Bay Resort in appreciation.
"They helped get us through some tough times after attending some of the more horrendous call-outs," Mr Greenwood says.
The Wellsford firefighting team should be ‘‘pretty darned proud of themselves," he says.
Others recognised include Glenn Wetherill with 29 years service, Les Martin for 27 years, Trevor Bowmar for 21 years, and Peter Bowmar, Harendra Sundar and Kerry Tupp for 17 years each.
Hearts of gold
United Fire Brigades Association past president Colin Kitchen read a poetic tribute to Chris Brown and Colin Greenwood.
A rare breed are Colin and Chris the volunteers, Opposite to the profiteers.
They give of their time and seek no return, Of gratitude they little earn.
They give of their expertise and talents too,
And yet their gifts are known by very few.
They rarely hear the accolades,
Or ride in front of big parades.
Day after day they help mankind,
A better lot in life to find.
They lead the young and assist the old,
And yet their stories are rarely told.
Unlike the greedy of this earth, Who count their gold to fix their worth,
Colin and Chris – these volunteers with hearts of gold – Can count their worth a millionfold.
- Rodney Times
Are our classrooms becoming overcrowded?