From the day NSW SES Harden member Peter Christensen first walked through the door of the rescue unit, he began to impress his colleagues.
Now the 22-year-old’s dedication and commitment have been recognised at the highest level of the organisation: he is the 2019 NSW SES Young Volunteer of the Year.
Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke met Peter today and found out just what it takes to achieve that level of accomplishment.
“Peter is an incredible young man whose achievements and hard work are matched only by his humility,” Ms Cooke said.
“When I was told what he has managed to do since he joined up in early 2016, I almost had to double-check that I had heard correctly – his list of qualifications and training accomplishments certainly sets a very high standard.
“He has gained skills in Land Search, Participate in a Rescue Operation, Communications Equipment Operations and First Aid, he is a qualified Skills Trainer and he now teaches storm and water damage, as well as how to operate communications equipment.
“And I’m also told that he is not only a dab hand with a chainsaw, he can also fill sandbags like a champion too.”
Peter said he was very excited to hear about the award.
“I’ve been with the SES going on four years, as I wanted to help my community,” Peter said after returning home from the Sydney awards ceremony.
“The SES have been really good to me – whenever I get a chance I jump at the opportunity to learn new things.
“It’s fun to learn new things and go places.”
Ros Bickford, NSW SES Harden Deputy Unit Commander, said her initial nomination for Peter was rejected – for a very good reason.
“When I first nominated him for a Commissioner’s Award, they rang me up and said ‘We’d like you to withdraw your nomination and instead put it in for Young Volunteer of the Year’,” Ms Bickford said.
“I really wanted to highlight Peter’s can-do attitude and an incredible willingness to learn. He came to us as this very young lad of 18 who has some learning difficulties, but he was determined to learn, and he kept asking what new things he could learn. We were more than happy to help him go through all the courses he wanted to undertake.
“I said in my citation that one day he will make Unit Commander.”