Asahel received the annual Brian Robertson Memorial Award at a group dinner to recognise her work with Foster brigade, where she’s extremely active with training, recruitment and fundraising.
“I had no idea it was coming and it was quite a shock. I was a bit overwhelmed – I had to make a speech and I’m not usually much of a public speaker!”
Asahel began going along to Foster fire station with her father and signed up on her 16th birthday after brigade members visited her school.
Until she recently helped to recruit four new 17-year-old members, she was the youngest active member in her brigade.
“I like helping the community. It’s good to give something back and it makes me more confident in myself. I don’t play sport, which is a big part of country towns, so CFA keeps me active and it’s great for the community.
“We train every Thursday night and I’m in the middle of doing my breathing apparatus training, which has been really interesting.”
“I’ve been to a few house fires and they actually put me in charge of a few other guys at the last one. It was really good. You don’t feel like you have the confidence to lead people until you get put on the spot like that, then you just have to deal with it, I guess.
“I’m grateful for the support of Captain David Jones, who’s really helpful. He’s always there when you need help and you can ask him anything – nothing’s a stupid question.”
According to David, Asahel has come along in leaps and bounds since she signed up.
“When Azza first joined she was a little bit shy – you could hardly get ‘boo’ out of her. Now she’s quite upfront and really knows what she’s talking about.
“She just gets in there, puts in and gets on with the job. And she doesn’t do it just for herself, Azza is a real team player, which is what being part of a brigade is all about,” he said.
“That’s part of the assessment criteria for this award, recognising someone that really puts in and does it without flair or fuss – not sticking their chest out for accolades.
“There were a few people we could have nominated for this one but Azza really stood out – she’s a quiet achiever and a fair dinkum team player.
“It can be hard to keep the younger ones with the brigade and it’s really terrific that we still have Azza as well as her partner Sam Westaway – they’re both up and coming members with bright futures in CFA.”
The Brian Robertson Memorial Award is chosen by the whole South Gippsland Group, after considering a nomination submitted by each brigade.
Second Lieutenant Kaylene Jones from Foster brigade won last year and was also recently awarded life membership to Foster brigade.
By Jason Leigh