Loftus Volunteer Bushfire Brigade president a finalist in emergency services peronnel awards

Award finalist: Loftus Volunteer Bushfire Brigade president Robert Cole. Picture: Supplied
Award finalist: Loftus Volunteer Bushfire Brigade president Robert Cole. Picture: Supplied

The president of Loftus branch of NSW Rural Fire Service has been named one of the state finalists in awards honouring emergency services personnel.

Robert Cole, the president and deputy captain of Loftus Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, is one of 28 finalists in the Rotary Districts of NSW Emergency Services Community Awards (RESCA).

His nomination is in recognition of his visit to bushfire-ravaged Kangaroo Valley to speak directly to and assist locals. While there he spent his own money to help stimulate the economy.

He has been involved with the bushfire service for seven years, but has racked up 40 years with community organisations, including Rotary and the Salvation Army.

He has also volunteered as a guide at the Powerhouse Museum.

His professional life saw him work as an orthoptist, helping people to walk for the first time or regain their ability to walk.

He raised funds to allow a child who could not walk and their parents to go to the US for treatment. He also worked with a paraplegic woman so she could walk down the aisle on her wedding day.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott announced the finalists earlier this week.

The community-nominated awards honour both paid and volunteer emergency services personnel. This year saw the highest ever number of nominations.

Mr Elliott said the awards were a chance to shine a light on the enormous contribution of emergency services workers.

"The past year has been an exceptionally challenging one for our community and this is an appropriate time to pause, reflect and congratulate the individual emergency services for the service that they have provided," Mr Elliot said.

"Finalists have more than 600 years of combined service and I thank them all for their exemplary community service."

This year's finalists represent Fire and Rescue NSW, the NSW Rural Fire Service, the NSW State Emergency Service, Marine Rescue NSW, Surf Life Saving NSW, NSW Ambulance and the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association.

Winners will be announced at an awards presentation on Friday, October 30.

NSW winners will then go on to represent the state at the national awards held in November.