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New Year’s Honours Recipients Recognised

Fire and Emergency New Zealand personnel from Ōpōtiki, Kaikohe, Westport, Ohakune and Kirwee were presented with their New Year’s Honours by Governor-General Patsy Reddy at Government House in Wellington today.

Syd Hughes and Bruce Thompson were honoured with Queen’s Service Medals for service to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and their communities. Jim Powdrill, Kevin Stechman and Stuart Jones received Queen’s Service Medals for service to Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

John Bowmar (Kaiwaka) was presented with his Queen’s Service Medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community by the Governor-General in Auckland on Monday 19 April.

Fire and Emergency Board Chair Paul Swain says, "being awarded with Royal Honours reflects the hard work of these six volunteers and the significant impact they have had on their communities over many years. Their service is not just through firefighting but also includes fundraising, mentoring and further volunteering for a range of organisations in their communities.

"Fire and Emergency New Zealand is extremely proud to have such dedicated volunteers who donate their time, commitment and skills to ensure their communities are safe. I would like to take this opportunity to also thank their families and supporters. Their support means our firefighters are available to serve their communities 24/7, 365 days a year.

"On behalf of Fire and Emergency and the people of New Zealand, thank you for your outstanding service - our communities are safer for your work."

Background on recipients:

Mr Daniel John (John) BOWMAR (Kaiwaka) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

John Bowmar has been a member of the Kaiwaka Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1977. He was Deputy Chief Fire Officer from 1994 to 2004 and has since served 16 years as Chief Fire Officer. In the past 10 years, he has attended 847 callouts across a range of events. At the same time, he has provided support to neighbouring Mangawhai Volunteer Fire Brigade, including mentoring new officers.

John has also been an active member of his local Lions Club and has been involved in community fundraising including for the Northland Rescue Helicopter Trust. He has supported the local Civil Defence team and has responded with his tractor to assist with rescues in the community.

Mr Joseph Sydney Ronald Robert (Syd) HUGHES (Ōpōtiki) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Syd Hughes was a member of the Ōpōtiki Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1961 until retiring from the brigade in 2015. During that time, he responded to 2,793 callouts. He was promoted to Station Officer in 1981, Senior Station Officer in 2001, and Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 2004. Syd remains involved with recruitment for the brigade and is an Honorary Life Member.

Syd was involved with the Ōpōtiki St John Ambulance Brigade from 1960 until 1987, including volunteering at sports events and ambulance callouts, and later became a full-time ambulance officer. He volunteered as a cadet instructor for St John from the mid-1970s until 1987.

Syd has been a member of the Ōpōtiki Pony Club, the Opotiki Agricultural and Pastoral Association, and the Ōpōtiki Hunt Club committee where he acted as first responder for hunts.

Mr James George (Jim) POWDRILL (Kaikohe) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Jim Powdrill has been a member of the Kaikohe Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1963, rising to the rank of Senior Station Officer. During his time with the brigade he was a driver and pump operator and assisted in training new recruits. He played a major role with other senior officers to support the brigade through three restructures, fitted smoke alarms in almost every house in Kaikohe, and cleaned chimneys in response to a rise in call outs to chimney fires.

Jim spent many years as a marshal and timekeeper at Northland Fire Brigade competitions and has officiated at provincial level from Cape Reinga to Tūrangi.

Jim was recognised as a Life Member of the Brigade in 1988 and received a Citizen Award from the Far North District Council in 2016. He has volunteered with Kaikohe St John ambulance service as a driver and at Kaikohe Pioneer Village and has been involved in various community fundraising functions. Jim is also a member of the Kaikohe Community Patrol and maintains the patrol vehicle in addition to patrolling.

Mr Kevin STECHMAN (Westport) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Kevin Stechman has been a member of the Westport Volunteer Fire Brigade for 46 years. He is currently the Senior Station Officer and has served as Secretary and Treasurer since 1999.

Kevin has represented the Brigade at the United Fire Brigades’ Association Annual Conference for the past 20 years. He has served on the West Coast Provincial Fire Brigade Association Executive, including as President in 1993. In this capacity he helped organise and run annual competitions and exercises for the firefighters. He is the current Secretary and Treasurer of the West Coast Gold Star Association, a group that provides support to fire personnel who have served more than 25 years for their brigades.

Kevin has also been involved with the White Star Club in the Buller Rugby Union as player, coach and committee member for more than 20 years.

Mr Bruce Herbert THOMPSON (Ohakune) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community

Bruce Thompson has been a member of Ohakune Volunteer Fire Brigade for 55 years. He spent many years with the Brigade as Treasurer and Secretary and was made a Life Member in 1990. He is currently Clothing Manager and provides a meal following every training night. He has been instrumental in fundraising for a water tanker and motor vehicle extrication cutting equipment for the Brigade.

Bruce operated the Ohakune movie theatre until 2014, where he organised a number of film screenings for community and fundraising events. He was a councillor for the Ohakune Borough Council from 1972 and was Deputy Mayor from 1974 until 1985. He was a councillor for Waimarino District from 1989 to 1994 and Ruapehu District Council from 2001 to 2004. He was also a member of the Waimarino Waiouru Community Board from 2004 to 2009.

David (STUART) Jones (Kirwee, Canterbury) - Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Stuart joined the Cust Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1974 and transferred to the Kirwee Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1979.

Stuart was elected Station Officer of the Kirwee Brigade in 1984, became Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 1996, and has held the role of Chief Fire Officer since 2000. He has been the driving force behind fundraising events to upgrade or replace equipment, replace operational support vehicles, and for the construction of a tanker shed. He has mentored and trained a number of firefighters over the years, many of whom have gone on to careers with Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

After the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake, he was a member of a revolving crew stationed with Kirwee Brigade’s tanker at the Christchurch City station to assist other crews in the surrounding area in the weeks following.

Stuart was named in the 2020 New Year’s Honours list.

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