For her commitment to peer support since 2006, Lesley Read recently received the Outstanding Service Medal.
At a surprise presentation at District 12 HQ in Seymour by North East Region Assistant Chief Officer Ross Sullivan, Lesley also received the National Medal.
Passionate about being a voice for volunteers, no matter the time of day, Lesley ensures the District 12 peer support team is always there in times of need. She spends most of her personal time providing 24/7 wellbeing support to all District 12 members, both on and off the fireground.
The supportive team of peers that Lesley has built delivers high-quality member wellbeing for all CFA people and their families. She identified half a dozen volunteers from her vast network, each with their specialist skills in their peer field, and crafted them into a team of exemplary quality.
As the welfare and wellbeing needs of our people have diversified over the years, so too has Lesley proved adaptable and innovative in her approach delivering peer support.
As the Peer Support Coordinator for District 12, she also provides an exceptional level of diligent and dedicated commitment to her role, advocating for all members, staff and volunteers in times of crisis.
Her courage to face adversity seems unlimited and her tenacity to keep working at the impossible - outwardly unnoticeable, habitually quietly in the background - until the issue is made possible and a desired outcome is arrived at, is the stuff of legend.
Passionate, protective, supportive and the voice that’s needed when words or courage fail. She is the shoulder we lean on, the keeper of our sanity and solver of problems. Her unwavering dedication and commitment to this role is what sets her apart from the rest.
Lesley does this all as a volunteer, of her own free will, for the benefit of District 12 and to many beyond those boundaries.
Lesley’s name was put forward for the award by Limestone Fire Brigade member Paul Bannan.
“I am one of the many people that Lesley has helped along the way and I thought she deserved recognition,” Paul said.
“After Black Saturday, she was in demand in a lot of brigades and she did a power of good. She is a shining light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“At the end of an incident, she puts people back together. It’s hard to think of a time when Lesley was needed and she wasn’t there. She’s exceptional.”
Lesley joined Hilldene Fire Brigade on 1 April 2002. She is a firefighter, treasurer, VFBV delegate and helps organise brigade functions. Previously, she was the brigade’s secretary.
Hilldene brigade captain, Geoff Read, who is also Lesley’s husband, is very proud of her achievements.
“Receiving these two medals is well deserved,” Geoff said. “She certainly puts in a lot of hours.
“She travels a lot at all times of the day and night as the District 12 peer coordinator.
“She’s a very sensitive and compassionate person. She’s been in life-threatening situations with police involvement, which is very stressful. But she is very resilient and tends to cope well.”