Rotary's 2014 Pride of the Illawarra Emergency Services Officer of the Year Awards kicked into top gear on Wednesday with 23 finalists being named from seven emergency service organisations.
The Australian Aerial Patrol Headquarters was chosen for the announcement by Rotarian Dot Hennessy and event manager Carole Johnston, of JAi Events.
Mrs Hennessy said that though each individual service held its own internal awards, Pride of the Illawarra had created something special by bringing all the services together and giving the community a chance to nominate emergency service personnel who went above and beyond the call of normal duties.
District Governor Barry Antees said Rotary was honoured to host such a worthy program to acknowledge and recognise the dedication of those in the Ambulance Service of NSW, Fire & Rescue NSW, Marine Rescue NSW, NSW Police Force, NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW State Emergency Service and NSW Volunteer Rescue Association.
NSW Volunteer Rescue Association Commissioner Mark Gibson said Rotary's Pride of the Illawarra recognised and awarded those "unsung heroes who do selfless acts or provide exceptional service to the community purely for nobility of their profession and the emergency service organisation they represent".
The finalists attending the gala awards at the University of Wollongong on August 8, 2014, will also be vying for the honour of being named volunteer officer or paid officer of the year.
The finalists who have been named for the Ambulance Service of NSW are Reg Hitchens, Tore Klebvjer, Neil Shepherd and Norm Rees.
Representing Fire & Rescue NSW are Andrew Barber, Cath Dorahy and Ken Lawrence.
Marine Rescue NSW members shortlisted are Geoff Fitzgerald and Graeme McCrudden.
Flying the flag for the NSW Police Force are Sergeant Stewart Arnold, Sergeant Mark Devine, coordinator Diane Martin and Senior Constable Cath Williamson.
For the NSW Rural Fire Service, those making their way to the stage during the gala awards are Roslyn Banfield, Ian Cox, Colin Crawford and Ron Caitlin.
NSW State Emergency Service members in the running for recognition are Robyn Huer, David Leigh, Grant McClory and Owen Pacewicz.
And representing the NSW Volunteer Rescue Association are Wayne Dreghorn and Darryl Schlodder.
Tickets can be booked online at www.prideoftheillawarra.com.au and there is also a Facebook page.