It took a couple of days for the news that Shane Beech had been tapped to receive the Queen's Service Medal to sink in.
Maketu's Mr Beech has been recognised in this year's honours list for his services to the New Zealand Fire Service, as a volunteer firefighter with the Maketu Fire Brigade since 1990 and as chief fire officer for the last 10 years.
"It was a huge surprise. I'm totally honoured with the whole thing and feel quite humbled by it," Mr Beech said.
It was being able to put something back into the community he loved that kept him going over the 25-odd years.
"I really love where I live and being able to put something back into it and hopefully make it a safer place to live."
Mr Beech had an impressive history with the emergency services in Maketu, as a driving force in the development of the Maketu Brigade from a small team with one fire appliance to a team that now included a modern pump, a light rescue tender for road accidents and a dedicated ambulance.
Mr Beech was no stranger to awards, receiving many brigade awards for attendance at the most callouts each year and just last month receiving a national Certificate of Appreciation for his commitment and services to search and rescue.