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Volunteers making a world of difference

THE Eastern Shore’s volunteers have been thanked for the valuable contributions they make to the community at a ceremony held at Government House as part of National Volunteer Week.

The 2019 Tasmanian Volunteering Awards signified the start of National Volunteer Week from 20 to 26 May, with winners being announced in 10 categories.

Eastern Shore-based resident Kate Gillham, from the Campania Fire Brigade, received the Lifeline Tasmania Emergency Services Award.

Ms Gillham said she was honoured that her work as second officer with the Campania Fire Brigade had been recognised.

“I felt humbled because the company at that award ceremony was quite extraordinary and it made me happy,” she said.

“It’s quite motivating for the hundreds of volunteers within the fire service that give up a lot, and certainly helps raise the profile and encourage other volunteers.”

Ms Gillham said the emergency service space was really broad and relied on volunteer contribution.

“When I first joined the fire service about 15 years ago, I was living on a large property in a really risky area and felt I had a responsibility to myself and my community to be a part of that response,” she said.

“It taught me a lot about what community is and that looking out for each other is important.”

Ms Gillham said she trained with the fire service once a week and it helped teach her valuable skills.

“Volunteering is a two-way street – it’s about being part of a community, but we’re also learning and training,” she said.

“We’re often involved in responses across the state, so it’s being part of that bigger network which is really rewarding.

“Without my volunteering, I wouldn’t know much about fire – it has certainly increased my awareness.”

Volunteering Tasmania chief executive officer Lisa Schimanski said the award winners and finalists embodied the spirit of this year’s National Volunteer Week theme: ‘Making a World of Difference.’

“The impact of volunteering goes far beyond the gift of time from one person to another, it strengthens the social fabric of entire communities,” she said.

Across Tasmania, around 160,000 people donate their time to volunteer work, contributing an estimated $4.9 billion worth of voluntary service every year.

Caption: Campania Fire Brigade second officer Kate Gillham, left, receiving the Lifeline Tasmania Emergency Services Award from Tasmanian Governor Kate Warner.