27 May 2022

Not all heroes wear capes - some are in high vis vests

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Rescue vehicle

Wagga Rescue Squad Volunteer Martin Gregory has dedicated his time to the community for 25 years. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

Wagga Wagga’s Martin Gregory finds tremendous fulfilment in his volunteering work.

“There is a satisfaction when you get to help someone in trouble when their family and friends can’t,” he said.

Mr Gregory has dedicated his volunteering time to the Wagga Rescue Squad for the past 25 years.

“I know it’s 25-years because I joined the squad when my son was born,” he said.

Mr Gregory is a partner and manager at small business Eyecare Plus Optometrists on Wagga’s Baylis Street.

But he said joining the Rescue Squad offered a change from his nine-to-five job.

READ ALSO Volunteers lend a friendly ear to bushfire survivors

“I enjoy learning new skills,” he said.

“Trying new and different things also gets me out of my comfort zone.”

His greatest joy in being a volunteer is the relationships he has forged over the years.

“I’ve made friends that I can rely on if something happened or I needed assistance,” he said.

“I can just say, ‘I need help’. ”

With over two decades of volunteering under his belt, Mr Gregory has a message for younger generations looking to volunteer.

“It is a great opportunity to broaden their horizons, enlarge their skills base and meet people,” he said.

“You become part of the community, whether it is through a sporting organisation, emergency services Apex, Rotary or Red Cross.”

He said getting out and getting involved gets one into the community.

“Much better than sitting at home feeling sorry,” he said.

Rescue officer in full gear near rescue vehicle

Martin Gregory’s greatest joy in being a volunteer is the friendships he has forged over the years. Photo: Shri Gayathirie Rajen.

National Volunteer Week was held earlier this month and the Wagga father said it was important to recognise his fellow volunteers for what they do.

“It’s a good time to highlight that life as we know it wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have volunteers in place,” he said.

“A lot of people give out much of their valuable time. We should be thankful for them.”

National Volunteer Week is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteers.

READ ALSO Forty years between drinks: Wagga’s newest pub was built in 1982

Volunteer Australia, the national peak body for volunteering, calls on everyone to make their appreciation for the millions of Australian volunteers known.

Volunteering Australia CEO Mark Pearce said Australia’s volunteers are the country’s backbone in times of crisis.

“Volunteers across the country have stepped up to help their communities through bushfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic in a most practical demonstration of Australian community spirit,” he said.

“Volunteers contribute significantly across crisis prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in many vital roles.

“The aftermath and the impact of disasters are felt long after an event has taken place. Volunteers provide support to those affected by crises, including mental health and suicide prevention services, which typically experience a surge in demand during and after disasters.”

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