It was a big weekend in Warracknabeal, population 2500, when the brigade celebrated its 125th anniversary in mid-October.
One ex member travelled from Darwin while others came from Shepparton, Geelong and Mildura for the weekend-long reunion nine months in the planning.
It kicked off on Friday night with a torchlight parade led by Chief Officer Steve Warrington and brigade Captain Cameron Whelan.
“We were supported by eight other visiting brigades from a range of groups,” said Cameron. “Our local SES, band and the St Arnaud Pipe Band also marched.
“From a brigade point of view, the terrific turnout from locals along the route was all we needed. People were clapping and calling out ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’.
“It was 25 years since we last had a torchlight parade so a lot of our members had never taken part in one. It was well worth waiting for.”
The annual combined dinner was held on Saturday night, with ‘combined’ referring to the brigade and the auxiliary.
Local caterers provided a sit-down meal before service medals were presented.
One of the most significant was the presentation of the Horrockses Shield by Operations Manager Dale Russell, accepted by Cameron and ex-Captain Digger Winsall on behalf of the brigade. Digger grew up at the fire station and remembers Francis Marsh, recipient of the shield, coming into the station and mussing up his hair!
“This came as a big surprise to members who didn’t know it was coming,” said Cameron. “We will get it mounted and it will hand proudly in the station.
“The other major presentation was an Outstanding Service Award to Jeff Adams who was a group officer for more than 30 years.
“It was a great night.
“My message to everyone was, ‘This is your night. Thank you. Well done.’
“We also recognised and thanked partners and children who allow us to do what we do.”
The final event on the calendar was Sunday open day at the station attended by plenty of locals. Competition material was on display along with old uniforms and multiple photo albums.
“The 125th is a very significant anniversary and we really feel we made the most of it,” said Cameron.
Warracknabeal has about 70 members, 35 of them operational and 20 in the auxiliary. The brigade attends an average 35-40 incidents a year.
It also has an active social club which organises about six events across the year from footy and bowls nights to the Christmas party. These usually double as fundraising events and include three firewood-cutting bees where money is shared between the brigade, Scouts, Guides and playgroup.
Congratulations to all Warracknabeal members past and present on 125 years.
Author: Leith Hillard