The Rotary Clubs of the Illawarra are calling for the community to help make the fourth annual Pride of the Illawarra - Emergency Services Officer of the Year Awards the biggest and best.
Rotarians, political and civic leaders and emergency service personnel gathered at Illawarra Regional Airport yesterday for the official launch of the 2014 awards.
Rotary District 9675 District Governor elect Barry Antees called on the community to start making nominations and spoke about the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the achievements of local emergency services personnel.
Mr Antees said the annual awards fitted in perfectly with Rotary's motto of "Service Above Self".
"The annual Pride of the Illawarra awards recognise local Emergency Services Personnel who have performed community service above and beyond the call of their normal duty," he said.
"The awards are open to all serving members of the seven state emergency services organisations, namely the Ambulance Service of NSW, Fire and Rescue NSW, Marine Rescue NSW, NSW Police Force, NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW State Emergency Service and NSW Volunteer Rescue Association, in either a salaried or volunteer capacity."
Mr Antees said the Rotary-run event was a chance for people to recognise the selfless contribution of so many deserving people.
"All members of our community appreciate the work of our emergency services personnel," he said.
"Rotary encourages, through these awards, the community to respond to the invitation to nominate personnel from any of the seven emergency services who serve within the local government areas of Wollongong, Shellharbour or Kiama. You may have been attended to by any number of the members of the seven services and you were unable to say how you appreciated their act of kindness, compassion or being there to support. This is the time to formally say thank you."
Nominations are open online at www.prideoftheillawarra.com .au until March 31.
Last year more than 400 people attended the awards presentation and this year the winners will be announced on August 8.
NSW Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons described the event as a wonderful initiative.
"It is always great to recognise the selfless dedication and commitment of emergency services personnel, both volunteer and salaried alike," he said. Other speakers at yesterday's launch were Bendigo Bank Aerial Patrol chief executive Harry Mitchell, Shellharbour Mayor Marianne Saliba and NSW Police Force assistant commissioner and Southern Region commander Gary Worboys.