Okaihau's Jack Winwood joined a small elite group among the nation's volunteer firefighters when he received his double Gold Star for 50 years of service.

Mr Winwood was the 159th recipient of the award, and the 11th in Northland, but he and wife Lynette are in a class of their own.

Mrs Winwood served alongside her husband for more than 25 years and was recognised with a Gold Star some years ago.

Between them they have given 80 years of service to their community, and are the only couple in New Zealand to have three Gold Stars between them.

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Colin Kitchen, past president of the United Fire Brigades' Association, said Mr Winwood joined the Okaihau brigade in March 1965 and recorded a 73 per cent attendance rate over the following 52 years.

The 50-year medal was sometimes referred to as a double Gold Star because in times gone by it was literally fashioned from two Gold Stars glued together.

Mr Kitchen also acknowledged Mrs Winwood and the couple's family for their unconditional support over many years.

Others to receive service honours at the brigade's awards night, held at the Okaihau Community Hall, were Andrew Graham (21-year clasp); Hamish Lewis and Alistair Wells (14-year medal); Andrew Graham (two-year bar for 17 years); Hamish Lewis and Alistair Wells (two-year bar for 15 years); Jody Adkins, Robbie Burns, Ross Campbell, Todd Campbell, Brian Corr, KJ Edwards, Matt Lewis and Daniel Flood (two-year bar for seven years); and Michael McGivern (five-year medal).