Top honours for Lisa 

The atmosphere at the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade inspires its firefighter of the year Lisa Atkinson. 

She had visions of joining the police – but three years ago became a member of the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade instead.

Lisa Atkinson wouldn’t have it any other way today.

“I love it,” she told The News.

The feeling is mutual – Lisa was named the brigade’s firefighter of the year when the brigade held an award night covering the last two years.

And Helen Wilkes was also celebrating – she won the Firefighter Excellence Award.

When she joined the brigade Lisa was one of five female firefighters – today there are a dozen.

The mum of three, who was born in Te Awamutu, says her award was a “massive honour”.

The brigade now has about 44 members, and Lisa says the atmosphere there “is why I do it”.

“Everyone has my back – behind the scenes there is core group of officers who put in timeless hours to support us,” she says.

Recipients of long service awards included this group with 14 and 21 years in the service – from left, Ken Callander, Karl Tutty, Allan Clark, George Jensen and Danny Smith. 

The Te Awamutu brigade is now “almost like family”.

Lisa’s first call out was to a car fire. Thankfully it was only the car which was damaged, but she will never forget the call. Every fire call involved a loss of some type which impacted on people, she said.

“I personally have ways of dealing with that – and we get support too. There is no shame in asking for help, and we run great debriefs.”

Lisa and husband Blair are in the construction business with Gibson Construction in Te Awamutu.

She says she would encourage any woman interested in firefighting to consider joining the Te Awamutu brigade …“and any men too”.

Awards presented included:

Three Year Certificate, Nicole Grayling, Lochlan Rollinson, Helen Wilkes. Five Year Medal, Frank Whitaker, Jarrod Spicer, Isabel Whitaker, Kara Rowland. Two Year Silver Bar (every two years after five year medal), Seven years service,  Ngaia Henry, Donovan Horn; Nine years, Christie Anderson, Julius Dranguet, Zach Gillespie; 13 years, Anna Alexander; 15 years, Alan Clark, George Jensen, Danny Smith; 19 years, John Cumpstone, Geoff Baker, Ed Hopping; 21 years, Karl Tutty; 23 years, Kurt Lawrence, Deane Mark, Colin Munro, Glenn Anderson.
Two Year Gold Bar (every two years after 25 year gold star medal), 31 years, Rob Willey, Dave Shaw; 35 years, Grant Mitchell; 39 years, Ian Campbell; 41 years, Lex Soepnel. 40 years service certificate, Ian Campbell.

Two Year Gold Bar (every two years after 50 year medal) 52 years Murry Gillard. Long Service Good Conduct, medal for 14 years, Allan Clark, George Jensen, Danny Smith; Seven year bar for 21 years, Ken Callander, Karl Tutty.

Attendance Trophy, Kelly Bennetto and Danny Smith; Crew Challenge Cup, Tawhiao Crew; Brigade Excellence Award, Helen Wilkes; Firefighter of the year, Lisa Atkinson.

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