Magnificent first responders reign at 2024 awards

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These two amazing local women reigned supreme at last night’s 2024 Macarthur first responders awards.

They are Tess Oxley, a NSW Ambulance officer, who won the salaried first responder of the year award.

Annette Collins, pictured left, who is with the local State Emergency Service (SES), was named volunteer first responder of the year.

Both also won their category, before going on to win the overall honour.

This was the second time the Rotary clubs of Macarthur awards have been presented, with the inaugural event launched last year at the same venue, Wests Leumeah.

And while the awards are recognition for local first responders who go above and beyond the call of duty, last night it became obvious that they are also about providing a platform for some wonderful stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in our community.

Last night two Macarthur firefighters, Amelia and Mark William, who are married to each other, were both nominated in the NSW Fire and Rescue category.

Amelia made a speech before the awards were presented, telling the audience how her husband had been supportive when she decided later in life – as a mother of three boys – to try to become a fire fighter too.

“I hadn’t realised what a tough challenge it was, but thanks to Mark and other firefighters, I made it, and here I am,’’ Ms Williams said in arguably the best speech of the night.

Mark Williams, who was also nominated for his effort with the Rural Fire Service, was highly commended in that category.

Not to be outdone, Amelia Williams was highly commended in the NSW Fire and Rescue category.

It was wonderful, heart warming stuff that reflected the kind of people who serve our community as first responders.

Fire and Rescue, Ambulance, Rural Fire Service, the SES and St John Ambulance are all eligible for these new awards organised by the Rotary clubs of the Macarthur region.

All services were again represented in the nominations stage, except for St John Ambulance, who did take part in 2023.

The other category winners were Mervyn Lawrence (NSW Rural Fire Service) and Jason Townsend (NSW Fire and Rescue.

Jarrod Cottrill was highly commended in the NSW Ambulance category, and Debbie Byrnes and John Dodd were highly commended in the SES category.

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