Photo credit: Ivan Kemp
Leslie Kelly OAM has etched out a long and impressive 57-year emergency service career with CFA, marked by his impressive leadership and contribution to his community.
His commitment to CFA has not gone unnoticed and was recently recognised as part of the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours, awarded with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
The OAM is awarded for service worthy of particular recognition and for Les, it’s his passion for CFA and his commitment to the community that has been regarded so highly.
Les recalls growing up on the family farm and joining his father by helping out Mannerim Fire Brigade at 12 years of age because “CFA was just a part of life out there”.
“As a kid I was excited to get involved and at that age was most interested in running for the brigade at the CFA-VFBV State Firefighter Championships,” he said.
It wasn’t always about competing for Les, he initially joined the local CFA to have fun and meet people as a young teenager and it turned into a lifelong passion for emergency management.
Les has held many leadership and critical roles in CFA throughout his life.
Notably, he was Captain of Lara Fire Brigade from 1999 to 2006 and is currently the Captain of the CFA District 7 Brigade.
He was made a life member of the CFA in 2017 and has also been awarded a 50-year Long Service Award and a National Medal 3rd clasp in 2014.
“I’ve always enjoyed volunteering for CFA,” he said.
“I’ve always loved being involved in the emergency management sector and helping to protect my community.
“However, I couldn’t have given 57 years of my life to CFA without the support of my family and the organisation.”
He believes CFA has taught him many tangible and intangible skills that have equipped him to be better in his personal and professional life.
“It’s built me up to be a better communicator and leader, which has been a great asset to me and those around me.”
Les said he never set out to be recognised for his contribution through CFA and other emergency response organisations and was deeply humbled to receive an OAM.
“I have always done this because I simply like doing it,” he said.
“I never could’ve dreamed of it, but I am thankful to be honoured in this way.”