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Full service at the Australian Open
Portland Brigade’s Bobbie-Lee Nelson couldn’t believe her surrounds. Luxurious arm chairs, an endless parade of food and drink, and a bird’s eye view of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Novak Djokovic dispatching lesser tennis mortals from Centre Court at Rod Laver Arena.
By Paul Huggett
Joining Bobby-Lee in one of Rod Laver’s ‘super boxes’ were 21 fellow CFA volunteers, each feted with Sunday 24 January 2016 at the tennis for a making a significant contribution to their brigade and community. The hospitality came care of Delaware North Companies Australia and New Zealand, the third year in which the company has opened its ‘super box’ to thank CFA volunteers.
“I was sitting in the box thinking what on earth have I done, is this for real? I have not done anything outstanding,” says Bobbie-Lee. Perhaps not in her eyes, but her region clearly felt differently and nominated her for this special recognition. Bobbie-Lee had recently spent a month working on the Kaladbro Swamp peat fire in the state’s far south-west.
There she ran communications, acted as air base manager and flight follower and, as Bobbie-Lee puts it, “answered three phones, seven radios and one hand-held while acting as the mother to the guys.” She made it home to her small farm twice in the month.
“After that it was so surreal to be at the tennis. The service, the recognition, the thanks we got – it was unbelievable. We got to watch Sharapova, Williams and Djokovic and get spoiled rotten in the process.”
Wye River Captain Roy Moriarty and wife Helen received nominations and attended, as did father and daughter John and Molly Brennan of Corack East brigade. Participants also included members impacted by the Scotsburn fire and those who work tirelessly behind the scenes in community safety, LCFs and ICCs. “All these people went above and beyond for their local area,” said Laura Bracken, Volunteer Engagement Lead, who organised the event with colleague Roz Long.
“It was amazing to see them walking into the box completely silently. Everyone’s jaws just dropped. I think it was overwhelming that after all they had done they could sit all afternoon and do nothing but watch tennis, talk and get served food and drinks.”
Laura hopes that this special recognition event will continue next year and beyond. But she said it won’t happen without the Brigade Support Team who gather the nominations and pull things together behind the scenes.
Roll on Australian Open 2017.