Firefighters from Warkworth, Matata, Milton, and Carterton were presented with their Queen’s Service Medals for their services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and their communities by Governor-General Patsy Reddy at Government House today.

  • Gary Aitken – Warkworth
  • Bronwyn (Bonnie) Dobson - Matata
  • Alan Tapp - Milton
  • Bryan Styles - Carterton

David Wight will receive his Queen’s Service Medal for services to his Coromandel community on Wednesday 18 September, and Garth Cowley was invested in Auckland earlier this month.

In his speech at a luncheon following the investiture Chief Executive Rhys Jones thanked these firefighters for their great service to the community.

"Today’s recognition is not just about their services as firefighters. They have gone above and beyond with their significant contributions to their local communities, from an active involvement in sports coaching and local community boards, to providing leadership and support to the wider community.

"We are particularly grateful to them for having done so over many years, serving their communities and inspiring the next generation of firefighters.

"My congratulations and my thanks to them all and their families and, in the case of volunteers, their employers,” said Rhys.

Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Tracey Martin, and Fire and Emergency New Zealand Board Chair, Paul Swain, congratulated the Queen's Service Medal recipients following their investiture ceremony.

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Firefighters awarded the Queen’s Service Medal

Gary Aitken JP

Gary Aitken was a member of the Opunake Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1966 and the Warkworth Brigade since 1970. He became Chief Fire Officer in 1999.

He was also Brigade Secretary at Warkworth from 1975 until 1991 and became President of the Auckland Suburban Fire Brigades Sub Association in 1991. He was Chairman of the United Fire Brigades Association (UFBA) National Competition Panel from 1999 to 2005. Gary also served on a number of community organisations including St John and the Opunkae Rugby Football Club.

Bronwyn (Bonnie) Dobson

Bonnie Dobson has been a volunteer operational support senior firefighter with the Matata Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1998. She provided administration and secretarial work for the Brigade for 17 years before she became an official member of the Brigade. She became a Medical First Responder Brigade in 2004, and completed a pre-hospital emergency care course in 2006. In 2009 Bonnie joined St John Whakatane as a Volunteer First Responder Ambulance Officer. She later qualified as an Emergency Medical Technician and has been employed as an Ambulance Officer since 2014. Following the 2005 Matata Floods Bonnie played a significant role in establishing a recording system to account for every person in the township and where they were evacuated to.

Alan Tapp

Alan Tapp has been a volunteer firefighter for more than 46 years and was Chief Fire Officer of the Milton Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1997 to 2015. He was awarded life membership of the Milton Volunteer Fire Brigade, the South Otago Sub Association, and the Otago Southland Provincial Fire Brigade Association. He has taken part as both competitor and coach in waterway and road crash competitions, and served on the Otago Southland Challenge Panel for eight years, with half of that as Chairperson. Alan has also contributed to the wellbeing and emergency preparedness of his community through his roles on the Clutha District Emergency Services Committee, the Milton Civil Defence Group, and Clutha District Search and Rescue. Alan also served on the Milton Lions Club, and the Toko Rugby Club. His rugby involvement has included coaching at club level, and selecting and managing at the Sub Union level.

Bryan Styles

For services to the United Fire Brigades Association and the community

Bryan Styles is Chief Fire Officer of the Carterton Volunteer Fire Brigade, of which he has been a member since 1980. Bryan has been President of UFBA, a Trustee of their benevolent Fund, which provides financial assistance to firefighters and their families in times of financial stress and he was made a Life Member of the UFBA in 2014. Through the Carterton Fire Brigade he has supported the Gladstone and Carterton Rugby Football Clubs. Bryan representedg Wairarapa Bush in more than 100 first class games and was selected for New Zealand Rugby Union Divisional teams.

David Wight

David will receive his Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community on Wednesday 18 September

David Wight has spent 38 years volunteering with the Kuaotunu Volunteer Fire Service, including 34 years as Chief Fire Officer, and was the Search and Rescue Coordinator in Opito Bay. David has helped establish key services in his local Opito Bay and Kuaotunu community in the Coromandel since 1973, including helping lead negotiations to create an electricity supply to Opito Bay in the 1970s. In 1976 David initiated the New Year’s Day event of beach activities and a fishing contest, and was a member of the Ratepayers Association of Opito Bay for 20 years. He is current Chair of the Kuaotunu Domain board area and has voluntarily looked after the foreshore and amenities. Mr Wight has organised numerous fundraising activities within his community and in the 1990s he helped to raise funds for life-saving equipment to be provided at local beaches.

Garth Cowley

Garth was invested in Auckland earlier in September for services to Fires and Emergency New Zealand and the community.

Garth worked for Fire and Emergency New Zealand from 1976 until his retirement in 2017. He contributed voluntarily to the welfare and safety of other firefighters in Auckland, over and above his normal duties. This included running the Auckland Metropolitan Fire Brigade Welfare Society, making hospital and home visits, and supporting sick and injured firefighters. He also serves as a trainer, guide and volunteer for Achilles New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind. Garth organised, coached and refereed a rugby league team of inmates from Auckland’s Paremoremo Prison.

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