One of Leigh Volunteer Fire Brigade's founding members has been recognised for his 26 years service, nearly 23 years after his death.
Robert (Bob) Davies was awarded a posthumous Gold Star - a New Zealand first.
Above image: Bob Davies' Gold Star was presented to his family. From left: Ian Davies (CFO Warkworth), Bob's wife Mavis, Paul Davies (ex-Leigh and now resident in Australia), Carol (Operational Support and Bar Manager Leigh) and Barry (ex-DCFO Leigh).
A founding member of Leigh Fire Brigade
Bob Davies was a founding member of the Leigh Fire Brigade that began in 1966. He was Chief Fire Officer for 11 years before retiring in 1992. But due to a filing error, the brigade was unable to prove that he had served the required 25 years to qualify for the Gold Star award.
Bob died in November 1992.
“I remember he was upset that he didn't get his Gold Star,” Bob’s daughter Carol says. “He knew he had done the time, but his starting date was incorrectly recorded as 1969 and he didn't have enough time to prove it before he died.
“It was something we discussed for years after. We kept saying 'we should do something about it,' but it got put in the too hard basket.”
In 2012, Leigh Fire Brigade secretary Tony Enderby began looking into the brigade's history in preparation for its 50th anniversary in 2016. He discovered the original brigade minutes and other documents proving Bob Davies was indeed a founding member of the brigade.
Bob had been at a community meeting in 1964 when 12 members of the Leigh community donated a pound each to set up a fire brigade.
The brigade applied to the United Fire Brigades' Association (UFBA) for a posthumous Gold Star for Bob. Fellow founding member Robbie Torkington verified the brigade documents were correct in front of a Justice of the Peace.
“At the end of 2014 we were told the Gold Star would be awarded,” Tony says.
At a ceremony at Leigh Fire Station on 28 March, Fire Service's Waitemata Assistant Area Manager John Booth, UFBA past-president Graeme Booth and President of the Gold Star Association Neville King presented the Davies family with the medal.
Graeme Booth said that Bob Davies lived for the brigade and it was a tragedy he didn't live to receive the medal.
“This is one Gold Star I will never forget,” Graeme said. “I can only remember one other posthumous award, but that was when the recipient died two days before the medal was to be presented.
“Putting a wrong right is most important. It doesn't matter if it was yesterday or 100 years ago. He missed out and that was tragic. He should have had this Gold Star to wear on his uniform.”
Carol says the ceremony finally brought closure to the issue which had hung over the family for 23 years.
“We are just proud as. It means a lot to us.”
Bob left a long legacy with the brigade. All of his children have been brigade members.
Three have received Gold Stars and the family has a total of 132 years service so far. Carol and Barry are currently serving with Leigh Brigade and Ian is Chief Fire Officer at Warkworth Brigade.
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