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Twenty-five years service to fire brigade a gold star effort

Giving 25 years of service to the Raglan Volunteer Fire Brigade has lifted a great weight off Dave Gilshnan’s shoulders.

On Saturday night he was presented with a gold star medal for his milestone.

“You get a medal at five years, and then every two years you get a bar to hang off it,” Dave explains.

They are replaced with the gold star at 25 years of service.

“It’s a weight off my shirt,” laughs Dave, who is the 17th Raglan volunteer firefighter to make 25 years of service since the brigade was started in 1954.

Dave, who has lived in Raglan for 40 years, started with the fire brigade when he was about 24 years old.

“The rest of the family were already joined up, and I’d been going to some dos anyway.”

His wife, Andrea, a volunteer with St John ambulance, is also an operational support officer with the fire brigade. Her father, Brian Shilton, has a gold star for volunteering with the brigade, as does her younger brother, Dave Shilton, and her sister Leanne’s husband, Renald Furer.

Dave, who works as a tyre importer in Hamilton so can only attend callouts afterhours and in weekends, says he enjoys being part of the brigade.

“They’re a good bunch of fellows. I enjoy the camaraderie, the family thing, the trainings, that we are all tied up with.”

He started his fire training while in the navy for three years, and says when he joined up with the Raglan brigade it was “a little bit backwards”.

“The navy was set up with all the flash stuff”, while with the Raglan brigade it was quite common for the volunteers to be hanging off the back of the truck on the way to a callout.

“That was the old days – everyone has to wear a seatbelt now, health and safety regulations.

“We are still learning a lot after all this time. The ABCs are the same but there are technical changes.

“They are training us up to do a bit more medical stuff.”

Fire brigade chief Kevin Holmes says earning a gold star is “quite a significant achievement”.

He says Dave has been a “very reliable” volunteer with a 96 percent attendance record for trainings and meetings.

“That’s quite outstanding.”

Inger Vos

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