Pride of NZ: Firefighter leads by example

By Adriana Weber

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Rotorua's Blair Gilbert has been nominated for a Pride of New Zealand Award, for working tirelessly as a volunteer rural firefighter for Lake Okareka and helping young people. Photo/Julie Hill
Rotorua's Blair Gilbert has been nominated for a Pride of New Zealand Award, for working tirelessly as a volunteer rural firefighter for Lake Okareka and helping young people. Photo/Julie Hill

Rotorua's Blair Gilbert is an inspiration to his community, but he won't admit it.

Mr Gilbert has been nominated for a Pride of New Zealand Award, for making a positive difference for youth and emergency services.

Mr Gilbert is a volunteer rural firefighter for Lake Okareka and has been nominated in the Emergency Services category of the awards.

He recently completed the Firefighter Sky Tower Challenge to raise money for leukaemia and blood cancer research.

He said while it was an honour to be nominated for the award, he felt it should go to all volunteer emergency service staff.

"They are the inspiration. The nomination should go to them all."

When Mr Gilbert is not giving up his time to put out fires he works as the regional manager for the Ministry of Youth Development.

With more than 20 years' experience working with youth, Mr Gilbert played a key role in creating the Youth in Emergency Service project, designed to engage and inspire young people into becoming a volunteer of an emergency service.

Mr Gilbert said he believed it was important that young people were valued as active citizens in their community.

"I think the award should also be for all the young people who have stood up and said YES we will train, learn, volunteer and be there when needed, at times of emergency. They're so keen and enthusiastic and, like all the other volunteers, are not thrown by the 2am callouts in windy, wet, stormy weather. Our communities are safer because of these people," he said.

The Pride of New Zealand Awards is held in association with the Rotorua Daily Post, New Zealand Herald, The Hits radio station and TSB Bank. For more information, visit the Pride of New Zealand website www.prideofnzawards.co.nz.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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