With 58 years as a firefighter and decades of community service behind
him Neville Jacobsen is no stranger to receiving awards.
But being honoured with a Queen's Service Medal is a highlight of his long
Jacobsen joined the Dannevirke Volunteer Fire Brigade on Boxing Day 1963. "I joined on Boxing Day ... I had my name down to join and was waiting to hear when that would happen. But a lot of brigade members were going to be away over the holidays so I got the call."
He immediately moved into the fire station which had accommodation for four people and stayed there for the next eight years.
Training then was on the job, unlike today where firefighters undergo three weeks' training at the start and then attend regular courses.
He said his only reason for joining the brigade was a desire to serve the community.
"I didn't have any family members who were in the brigade but after I joined I had four of my brothers-in-law follow me in."
In 2014 he clocked up 50 years of service and was the first firefighter to achieve this milestone in the Dannevirke brigade's 119-year history.
Twelve months ago he decided to retire from the brigade but was given the role of support officer which, in his words, involves "doing a bit of everything".
Naturally, there were dark sides to the vocation.
"The hardest part is going out on a call and seeing young ones injured. I went out to an accident between a car and a van at Matamau and when I got there I recognised the car's number plate. It was my niece's car and she was injured. That was hard."
Another accident he attended was particularly heart-wrenching.
"It was 31 years ago on the old Oringi Bridge. We were working on two vehicles when I noticed a third car some distance away that was also involved. It was a mother and her 11-month-old son. Tears came to my eyes when I realised the mother was dead but the boy had a big smile on his face. I got the baby out of the car and put him in the front of my jacket. Each time I looked at him he still had a big smile on his face."
Firefighting isn't the only role Jacobsen has had over the years. He has been actively involved in Search and Rescue, St John, Red Cross, Civil Defence and the Cancer Society's Relay for Life.
He has been a driving force in having defibrillators placed in 14 locations around Dannevirke and carries out training courses.