Former Eaglehawk Fire Brigade Captain Eric Smith, who was instrumental in protecting the community during the 2009 fires, will receive the honour of Eaglehawk Citizen of the Year for 2021.
The award recognises Eric's service to CFA for more than 50 years, his involvement in various community events, and membership of organisations including Eaglehawk Dahlia and Arts Festival, Canterbury Carols and Australia Day Committee.
Eric is a highly decorated CFA member having held several roles at Eaglehawk from training officer and coordinator, second lieutenant, group delegate and captain for six years.
"Eric is a fine example of putting service above self and he’s highly regarded for his community passion and people skills," said Geoff Gallagher, Community Services Director with Rotary Eaglehawk.
"In 2009, Eric was on the first fire truck to fight fires on what became known as Black Saturday, and he worked on the ground for several weeks to protect our community.
“On behalf of the Eaglehawk community and the Rotary Club of Eaglehawk, I congratulate Eric on becoming this year's Citizen of the Year and thank him for his dedication to his community.”
Several brigade members caught up with Eric, commonly known as Uncle Eric, to have a chat about the recent announcement.
“I received a phone call from the organiser of the Eaglehawk Australia Day Committee saying I had been awarded Eaglehawk Citizen of the year for 2021,” Eric said. “It really caught me off guard, quite a shock really.
“I try to keep a low profile and just work along in the background helping with what needs to be done,” he continued. “it’s for the Eaglehawk Community, it’s what you do being part of the community, but I do humbly appreciate the award.”
Eric reflected on the time after Black Saturday and noted how the community of Eaglehawk “fell into place and helped the brigade immensely.
“It really helps having a great team and family supporting me, and I find it satisfying seeing the community come together, whether after a fire or at the Dahlia and Arts Festival.”
“On behalf of the Eaglehawk Fire Brigade, we congratulate you Uncle Eric on becoming this year's Citizen of the Year and thank you for your dedication to Eaglehawk Fire Brigade and the Eaglehawk Community,” said Captain Kylie Davis.