“The school’s been in trouble, we had to screw one roof down… I’ve just closed the flood gates,” says George.
When we do get a chance to speak about their Queen’s Birthday honours - Fran and George have received the Medal of the Order of Australia for their service to the Sale community - they’re both exceptionally humble.
“I don’t think I do any more than anyone else. I guess everything I do and everywhere I go, someone does take notice,” says George.
For Fran, surprise was the first thing that registered. “I was shocked. I don’t believe I do more than anyone else, but I guess somebody else must reckon I do.”
This dedicated couple are volunteers with CFA’s Seaspray brigade and St John Ambulance Australia. They’re frequently called to put on both volunteering hats at the same time, administering first-aid to brigade members while out at a job.
“We treat the CFA crew members if they have any injuries, things like smoke inhalation we can handle out in the field. It makes it easy for everyone,” says George.
Fran and George have both received membership to The Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, in recognition of their dedication to St John Ambulance. For Fran, the last time she made a trip to Melbourne was to collect her St John’s award in 2011. “I said I wasn’t going back to Melbourne again but it looks like I will be now!”
They are both lieutenants at Seaspray brigade. George is the brigade’s first lieutenant and Fran is the third lieutenant, and have been active members with Seaspray since 1978. Fran first joined the brigade as an Auxiliary member while their children were growing up, and became a firefighter in 1995. Their son and daughter were also members of Seaspray brigade, and later Traralgon brigade, before moving to Perth.
Asked why they dedicate so much time to the community, George responds, “Over the years I’ve seen so much trauma… if I can help someone, I will, and save some mum the heartache of going through what other mums have gone through.”
Through their community service and brigade ties, Fran and George have also created a social life for themselves. After meeting at a Saturday night dance in Sale nearly 50 years ago, their ongoing volunteering work has introduced them to lifelong friends and fellow firefighters.
“We’ve met a lot of people from all over the world doing our ambulance and CFA work. Firefighters from Canada, New Zealand and America… it’s good to pass on information to each other,” says George.
It’s this ongoing dedication to sharing their knowledge, skills and time with the community that has earned Fran and George their OAM medals – although they’ll insist it’s no different to what anyone else does.