Long-serving officer honoured

SVEN HERSELMAN
Last updated 10:34 28/11/2012

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Former Marlborough principal rural fire officer Ross Hamilton was honoured for his years of service in civil defence by Ministry of Civil Defence top brass last week.

Ministry director John Hamilton was due to present the long-service award but was called away on official duty.

Ministry regional co-ordinator Peter Cameron and regional adviser Simon Chambers made the presentation to Mr Hamilton at the Blenheim emergency operations centre.

They lauded his contribution to civil defence and emergency management over more than two decades.

"Ross has been a stalwart member," said Mr Cameron. "He started in Marlborough in 2002 just when the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act of 2002 was put in place and we really appreciate how he took it on." He also praised Mr Hamilton's public awareness campaigns on being prepared for disasters.

The excellent state in which he left the Marlborough office was also named as one of his outgoing successes.

"This is a model centre, but Ross has also contributed widely through his training programmes and his work at disasters in New Zealand such as the Christchurch earthquakes as well as overseas," Mr Cameron said.

He added that ministry director John Hamilton was disappointed that he could not attend the ceremony himself and honour Ross Hamilton for his service.

Ross Hamilton said he was touched by the long service award. "I've spent a good part of my life in civil defence but I've enjoyed my time with the ministry. It was a challenge to get the plan up and running in Marlborough but it was certainly worth while," Mr Hamilton said.

At the ceremony he was also presented with a the certificate for the national diploma in rural administration by Marlborough deputy principal rural fire officer John Foley.

Mr Hamilton is one of a few in the country to hold the qualification, which he has held for some five years, but has never been presented with the actual certificate for it.

The Nelson Marlborough District Health Board also acknowledged Mr Hamilton for his training of volunteers who assisted in the Christchurch earthquakes.

"I was involved with the efforts during the first earthquake . . . it is good to know that people I trained were able to help during the Christchurch disasters," Mr Hamilton said.

Originally a horticulturist, he started as a volunteer firefighter in Mosgiel in 1971.

The next year he was appointed rural fire officer in Nelson. In 1990 he began work under the Ministry of Civil Defence and in 2002 moved to Blenheim as the first full time principal rural fire officer in Marlborough. National rural fire officer Murray Dudfield said Mr Hamilton had been nominated for a New Zealand Fire Service long service and good conduct medal. "It is still pending approval, but I don't see there being a problem with it," he said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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