A tin shed on Park Road was the first home the Mandurah State Emergency Services (SES) ever knew.
They began servicing the Peel region community out of the humble base in the late 1970s, where their volunteers were given basic first aid training and taught the ins and outs of regular rope work.
The entire crew was equipped with a single vehicle, a chainsaw and a tarpaulin.
Currently the longest serving member of the Mandurah SES, Paul Dwyer recalled the early days as “tough work” put in by tireless volunteers.
“It was hard going, but it was done by people who had community spirit and cared about giving back to the place they live in,” he said.
In that respect, not much has changed.
But Mandurah’s SES was able to blow out the candles on its 40th birthday last week, celebrating the growth from its humble beginnings to what is now one of the largest control centres in Western Australia.
“The hard work of the volunteers to raise the SES from what it was 40 years ago to what it is now has been outstanding,” Dwyer said.
“I’ve come and gone from the group a few times, but to see where it’s come from when I joined as a 19-year-old in the early 80s just shows how dedicated the group is to the community.”
The base currently consists of more than 80 members, along with more than 60 cadets in training.
This year alone has seen them spend more than 4000 hours at callouts, 8000 hours coordinating community events and 3000 hours educating seniors and school children about emergencies.
In previous years, they’ve lent their hands to major disasters like freak storms in 2012, and the Yarloop bushfires.
The group’s 40th anniversary celebrations coincided with their annual awards night, which honoured their perseverant volunteers.
“Being on call 24/7, 365 days a year for 40 years is a huge achievement, and it was great for our unit to be able to celebrate that,” unit manager Chris Stickland said.
“You couldn’t pay our volunteers enough for the hours they put in, so to be able to recognise that hard work is the perfect way to mark 40 years in the Mandurah community.”
Deputy manager Phil Bresser took out the prestigious volunteer of the year award on the night, while Amy Calleja was named cadet of the year.
Full award winners
- David Templeman Shield – Best Cadet Instructor – Matthew Marshall
- Allen Fazey Youth Award Shield – Jordan Bresser
- Neil Davidson Shield – Outstanding service to Ops/Admin/Transport – Robert Gray
- Gwen Haywood Shield – Outstanding service to welfare section - Robyn Ballantyne
- Pat Haywood Shield – Outstanding service to communications section – Debby Rogers
- Bill Hutchinson Shield – Outstanding service to rescue section – Chris Fenton and Dean Sutton
- Syd Wilson Patron’s Shield for Leadership – John Sharratt and Alison Kew
- Chris Stickland Shield for Community Events – John Fenton, Chris Fenton and Dean Sutton
- Narie Hubble Shield – Best section award – Rescue
- Edna Butterly Shield – Most improved member – Sean Reid
- Merv Gale Shield – Meritorious service award – Jesse Haslam and Ruth Haslam
- Mayday Club Cadet Instructors Shield – Kailah Grasso and Robyn Benson
- Brian Halsey SES Instructors Shield – Hugh O’Dwyer
- Outstanding Leadership Maureen and Geoff Burrell Shield – Tom Shamsi
- Finance and Administration – Paul Dwyer and Myra Giardini
- Cadet of the year – Amy Calleja
- SES Member of the Year – Phil Bresser