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A birthday at base camp
Sarah Van Der Velden celebrated her 20th birthday at a base camp while fighting an interstate fire in 2003.
***Sarah Van Der Velden is a CFA volunteer who is being profiled as part of a special series celebrating National Volunteer Week***
A student at the time, Sarah was sent to Delegate River as part of a strike team.
“I had been away a number of times, but they needed crews, so I went,” she said.
It was the second day of her deployment and the day of her 20th birthday. Sarah’s mum had snuck a present in her bag with the assistance of her crew leader.
“I had the whole base camp, around 200 people, singing me happy birthday while a cake was brought out. It was awesome,” she said.
“Since then I’ve had many birthdays away.”
The present from her mum was a fireman doll, which ended up being the mascot for the truck she was on.
Sarah has been with CFA for 15 years and is member at Bairnsdale. She follows in the steps of her dad, who has clocked up 35 years of service to CFA.
“There are times you miss out on doing different things, but I love it,” Sarah said.
“I wouldn’t have stayed down in Bairnsdale if it wasn’t for the brigade. It’s a great brigade to be with.”
Sarah’s commitment and dedication to community is one of the many traits that mark volunteerism, which is being celebrated during National Volunteer Week, which runs from 11-17 May.