A farmer from near Dubbo who has battled bushfires and attended emergencies for more than 50 years to protect others has received the thanks of his country.
Eric Shanks is one of 20 NSW Police and NSW Emergency Services personnel to be named on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
The volunteer firefighter is one of six NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and four Fire & Rescue NSW members to receive the Australia Fire Service Medal this June.
A current NSW RFS group captain who led the Terramungamine brigade for more than two decades, Mr Shanks was not anticipating special recognition.
“I’m pretty honoured to be able to receive the award,” he said.
“Certainly I didn’t expect it, that’s for sure, never intend to do anything to get a reward.”
Living on the land and with his father the first captain of the Terramungamine fire brigade, it’s not surprising Mr Shanks started firefighting as a 13-year-old.
He formally signed up when he reached the official age of 16, going on to serve in numerous positions including captain, deputy captain, permit officer and president.
I'm pretty honoured to be able to receive the award. Certainly didn't expect it, that's for sure, never intend to do anything to get a reward.Australian Fire Service Medal recipient Eric Shanks
The Goonoo S44 fire in 2007 was one of the major incidents that called him away from home and his family.
It lasted 10 days and more than 16,000 hectares of national park were destroyed.
His award citation notes Mr Shanks “successfully commanded a sector where his superior knowledge, strategies, and command and control were evident”.
Mr Shanks has welcomed the opportunities with the NSW RFS.
“I’ve always enjoyed being involved with it because it’s off the farm sort of work, and you meet up with lots of other people, so I’ve enjoyed that side of it,” he said.
“That’s what motivates me, just the people really.
“Meeting different people and a break off the farm because I’m on the farm on my own, so it’s just nice to get out and be part of a team.”
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Troy Grant said the men and women recognised consistently went “above and beyond their duties”.
“Time and time again they have demonstrated their selflessness and commitment to protecting the vulnerable, lending a helping hand and educating and informing the public,” he said.
“Whether salaried or volunteer, they make an incredible contribution to the community and these accolades, while never sought, are a fitting acknowledgement of their unwavering dedication and commitment.”