Selfless service gets golden recognition

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Adam PoulsenMidwest Times
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Long-time Carnarvon Volunteer Marine Rescue member Gary Hornhardt, with wife Jill, accepts a volunteer employer recognition award from Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan.
Camera IconLong-time Carnarvon Volunteer Marine Rescue member Gary Hornhardt, with wife Jill, accepts a volunteer employer recognition award from Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan. Credit: Supplied, DFES

When duty calls, Gary Hornhardt’s business stops.

As the sole trader of Gary’s Refrigeration Services, the 62-year-old marine rescue volunteer can’t handball a job to someone else.

“I just shut shop,” he said.

“I’ve been in Carnarvon for 35 years and I’ve been with the Carnarvon Volunteer Marine Rescue Service for 23 years.

“It’s been pretty hard.

“Sometimes you wonder why you stay.”

But like many volunteers living in regional WA, Mr Hornhardt knows his efforts can mean the difference between life and death.

And he hopes others, including the volunteers he gives up his weekends to train and assess, would come to the rescue if he found himself in a precarious situation.

“I have a passion for the sea and the people out there,” Mr Hornhardt said.

“I go fishing a lot and I’d like to think that while I’m out there there’s someone in town who can come and find me.

“The best thing is to have them trained up as much as I can.”

Sadly, along with the successful rescues come the tragedies.

In 2007, when Mr Hornhardt was president of the Carnarvon VMR, four longstanding members were killed when their boat hit a barge.

“That was pretty daunting because we had a life member on that boat at the time,” he said.

“It was pretty hard for the whole group.

“I’m pretty sure some people haven’t recovered from that one.”

Mr Hornhardt’s decades of service were recently recognised with a gold award at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services Volunteer Employer Recognition Awards.

Other gold recipients from the Mid West included the Ngangganawili Aboriginal Health Service in Wiluna, and Barnes Hydraulic Services in Badgingarra.

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