Freedom of Entry celebrates the efforts of Toodyay volunteers

Article image - Freedom of Entry celebrates the efforts of Toodyay volunteers

With sirens wailing and lights flashing, some 25 emergency vehicles paraded through the main street of the small country town of Toodyay in Western Australia on Saturday 19 May. The Shire of Toodyay granted Freedom of Entry to all emergency services, including police, ambulance, bush fire brigades, fire and rescue and SES, to formally honour their outstanding service to the community.

Although this is not the first year that the event has been held, it was considered especially significant due to the catastrophic fires that occurred in the Shire earlier this year. In January, a huge blaze raced through the Julimar Conservation Park and burnt an area in excess of 7,600 hectares. A second fire occurred only a week later in the agricultural area to the northeast of Toodyay, resulting in the tragic loss of a life and extensive damage to farms.

The parade provided an opportunity for Toodyay to formally thank local brigades and those from other regions, including as far north as Wanneroo and as far south as Singleton.

Toodyay Shire President, Councillor Charlie Wroth, officially welcomed the parade and official guests as they arrived at the Toodyay Showgrounds. Western Australian Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, Murray Cowper, and Member for Moore, Gary Snook, were also present to thank the volunteers for their assistance.

Emergency service volunteers were thanked for their tireless efforts to serve the Toodyay community all year round. Small communities are reliant on the dedication of volunteers to protect and assist them during times of disasters and emergencies. Also recognised were the families of the volunteers, who not only support them, but often wait anxiously at home for their loved ones to return safely.

District Manager for the Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia, Glen Tunstead, presented three Regional Director Awards to Chief Fire Control Officer, Murray McBride; Deputy Chief Fire Control Officer, Torben Bendsten; and Bobbie Jones of the Toodyay Central Brigade. The awards recognise outstanding and commendable service. Minister Cowper also presented a National Services Medal to John Flower of the Morangup Brigade for 15 years of outstanding service to the Bush Fire Services of Western Australia.