A TAMWORTH volunteer’s heroic efforts in the recent bushfires will be rewarded with a voyage on the Queen Mary 2.
Tamworth Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteer Jeffrey Bartlett will fly to Brisbane this morning, joined by a group of seven of his colleagues who are being saluted for their recent life-saving efforts during the summer firefighting season.
The group will set sail this afternoon from Brisbane and will stay on board the ship for two nights before arriving in Sydney.
The group Mr Bartlett is a part of will also be joined by other “summer heroes” from the Tasmania Fire Service, Victorian Country Fire Authority and Queensland State Emergency Service, who have been invited as the guests of Cunard line.
A senior communications officer for the NSW Police, Mr Bartlett will be joined on the cruise by his wife, Janice.
He joined the Rural Fire Service 35 years ago after being encouraged by his mates.
During the recent summer, Mr Bartlett and the Tamworth City RFS brigade were busy with a range of callouts.
“We had a really busy fire season this year,” he said.
“And then the big storm hit with all of the hail and we were called in to help with that.”
The crew was on standby for the Coonabarabran fires, but some well-timed rain meant they were stood down.
Mrs Bartlett has also been involved with the Tamworth RFS over time.
She spent between three and four years as the brigade’s secretary and helped with its communications.
Mr Bartlett said he was “tickled” about the opportunity to go on the cruise.
“I think it showed that Cunard noticed what happened here over the summer and went that extra mile to say thanks,” he said.
Mr and Mrs Bartlett said they saw the Rural Fire Service as a foundation of the local community.
“It brings people together socially and provides people assistance in times of need,” he said.
Cunard Line president and managing director Peter Shanks said the Queen Mary 2’s “Salute to Summer Heroes” would allow the community to acknowledge the volunteers, as well as the overall contribution of volunteer organisations.
“We are delighted the Queen Mary 2 can play a part in marking the service and sacrifice of volunteers who routinely defend and protect their communities,” Mr Shanks said.
“It is humbling to know that emergency services volunteers risk everything to protect their communities in the most extreme conditions – and they do it willingly, year after year, and sometimes at a great personal cost.”