Baker’s Banter



Andrew BakerOver three successive weekends in late February and early March, significant contributions to our communities through membership within volunteer Fire Brigades or Rural Fire Forces will be celebrated in Franklin.
Dave Little of Pukekohe, Howard Cole and Bryan Irvine from Maramarua will all be awarded the coveted Gold Star for 25 years service whilst Mike Culpan in Waiuku will join a very select group in achieving a Double Gold Star for 50 years service.
These achievements are simply magnificent when you consider not only the number of incidents these men have attended, but for me even more significantly, the number of training sessions, weekend courses and other brigade related commitments they have attended over the years. The willingness of these volunteers, their colleagues and others such as Coastguard and Life Saving; to put themselves in situations of danger for others deserves the highest praise.
One of the great features I believe exists within communities founded on rural values is the willingness to volunteer, to give up time, effort and often money for the benefit of others whether it be our many service clubs, community and special interest groups or in the social services area helping those who need guidance and advice.
Obviously behind every volunteer are families, employers, work colleagues and friends who accept and support the desires of our volunteers to do their stuff. Without that support we would either have less volunteers or more single, unemployed and lonely volunteers.
Those behind our volunteers are equally worthy of thanks and praise. Volunteering though covers so many things. In this area we are extremely fortunate to have people willing and able to step up across so many parts of our lives.
Community residents or ratepayer groups are particularly important to entities such as Council and Government. They have the ability to provide excellent channels for communication in both directions, to allow engagement and sharing of ideas.
It has intrigued me over these past few years that often our strongest and most engaged organisations of this type exist in our smaller villages and towns. Where AGMs will attract 30 or more people and where there is a real cross section of the community represented and where there is often open, lively and positive discussion, debate and challenging of ideas.
It is a strange dichotomy this small rural versus large urban. Logic could suggest it is easier in our busy world to find people in our larger towns willing to be part of these groups and conversely more difficult in the smaller places. But in fact it is the opposite it would appear. There will be many reasons why and is not meant as a criticism.
For us, it’s vital that these groups exist. We have over 20 such groups in Franklin plus our hall committees who often have dual purposes. They are all important, some of them struggle for numbers so I encourage people tobecome involved if at all possible and join in shaping and assisting our communities.

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