Each year Kiwibank asks the people of Aotearoa to nominate the individuals inspiring change in their communities. We’re pleased to share that three of our own volunteer firefighters have been nominated by their community and recognised with a Kiwibank Local Hero Award – awarded to the top 100 inspirational people who have made a positive difference in their corner of Aotearoa.

You can read about each nomination below, and read more about the local hero medalists on the Awards website(external link).

Ian Dudley – Taranaki
Ian Dudley has been volunteering for New Zealand Fire and Emergency for 50 years. He’s done it all over the years; he’s been a chief, worked in operational support, and is known for his commitment to call-outs - he’s the first to arrive at the station, getting equipment ready for the team to get to emergencies quickly. Ian’s been a member of the Manaia Fire Brigade, Hawera Fire Brigade and Kohi Fire Brigade and beyond this incredible gift to his community he’s also been a community watch patrol member and has volunteered with MENZSHED. He finishes his time with Fire and Emergency this year however is likely to continue inspiring new team members by sharing his knowledge and stories over a cup of coffee.

Darren Hennessy - Waikato
For 23 years Darren Hennessy has been putting out fires across Waikato. As the Chief Fire Officer at Hamilton Volunteer Fire Brigade, his steadfast commitment and leadership has created better outcomes for the communities he serves. His advocacy has led to expanded services and equipment for the brigade, and to greater safety for the public and firefighters. He introduced a welfare trailer for firefighters - this is a place where firefighters and members of the public can retreat to, to reduce their exposure to carcinogens on call-outs. Rural firefighting support has also been expanded through his determination to develop greater capability in rural areas. The health and wellbeing of firefighters and the community has been greatly improved through his tenacity.

Scott Weatherall - Otago Ōtākou
The volunteering skills of Scott Weatherall benefit so many organisations across Otago. An emergency services volunteer for the Police, Search and Rescue, Fire and Emergency and Surf Life Saving, Scott goes above and beyond for the people around him. A trainer and mentor at the Brighton Surf Lifesaving Club, he works with both young and old to ensure they’re having a good experience with the water. In his capacity as an ‘I am Hope’ ambassador, Scott is raising the importance of mental health and wellbeing for New Zealanders. Scott shows support for people in all walks of life and is exemplary in his care for his community.

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