Rangitikei firefighters honoured

Three firefighters from Rangitikei, two of them brothers, have been given Queen's Service Medals for their lengthy stints of providing protection to their communities.

Taihape brothers John and Tony Collings, along with Mangaweka man Rex Noble, have all been honoured for their services to the Fire Service and their communities.

The Collings brothers have both given decades of service at the Taihape Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Tony spent 46 years with the brigade - 19 of them as chief fire officer - before retiring, while John has been the senior station officer there since 1967.

Both of them have also spent time on the Rangitikei Fire Region Area operating committee.

As part of their roles in the fire brigade, they provided smoke alarm installation and battery changing services to residents in their town.

John Collings said being involved in the fire brigade was a family affair, with his father and older step-brother both having served.

The two of them have also been involved in various community organisations outside of the Fire Service.

Tony Collings has supported the Gateway programme at the Taihape Area School, and has helped Taihape Older and Bolder.

He also offered mechanical engineering experience to Taihape College students through his Taihape Auto mechanic business, as well as holding adult learner nights for older women to learn about basic car maintenance.

Noble has clocked up a half century of service at the Mangaweka Volunteer Fire Brigade, with 24 years as chief fire officer.

Highly respected for his leadership and training skills, he has also been involved in the New Zealand Fire Service at regional level.

He has also been a member of multiple community organisations, including the Taihape Pirates Rugby Football Club, Heritage Mangaweka, Mangaweka School, St Patrick's Church restoration, Mangaweka Centenary celebrations and the Mangaweka Sport Club.

In an interview with the Central District Times, Tony Collings said he would have to often drop tools and run to the fire station when the siren went off. "I'd run through the back of the fire station and it would be a real race to try and catch the truck. It was exciting."

John Collings has been an on-call St John ambulance driver, a member of the Taihape Municipal Brass Band and a timekeeper for the Taihape Amateur Athletic Club.

He has also been an official and steward for Motorsport New Zealand since 1985.

He said he got into motorsport through doing hill-climb events. "When I got a bit older and wiser, I thought I had better not do that any more. So I became a steward for the hill climbs and got to play God for the day, telling everyone what to do."

John Collings said the two brothers had talked about their medals, and were planning a celebration for next weekend.

Manawatu Standard