Marine Rescue and State Emergency Service personnel across the Illawarra are celebrating after winning major recognition at Friday's 2014 Rotary Pride of the Illawarra Emergency Services Officer of the Year Awards.
Graeme McCrudden, of Marine Rescue NSW, took the overall award for an officer working in a volunteer capacity and Grant McClory, of the NSW State Emergency Service, won the top prize for someone working in a paid capacity.
Mr McCrudden was unable to attend because of illness, but his colleagues and fellow finalists joined everyone in applauding him for his work as a volunteer with Marine Rescue over six years.
He has served in the roles of administration officer, sector leader for inshore vessels, treasurer and deputy unit commander.
He works on Lake Illawarra and oversees maintenance operations, and information and communication systems.
His unit assists more than 120 vessels each year and makes more than 20,000 radio calls.
Mr McCrudden was recognised for his management and people skills, which had helped bring together the three Coast Guard units of Wollongong, Lake Illawarra and Hill 60 to form Marine Rescue Port Kembla.
His commendation noted he was also a full-time carer and a shining example of someone who puts service above self.
Mr McClory was acknowledged for his work as a member of the NSW SES for more than 20 years.
He held the positions of rescue officer and deputy local controller before taking on the full-time paid position of learning development officer in the Hunter region. He has since been transferred to the SES Illawarra South Coast region office.
Mr McClory has attended nearly every major disaster in the Illawarra area over the past 2½ decades.
He is passionate about cross-agency training, which develops the response skills of officers and works to strengthen ties between the services.
Mr McCrudden and Mr McClory were the winners in the Marine Rescue and State Emergency Service categories.
In the other categories, Neil Shepherd won the Rotary Pride of the Illawarra Emergency Services Officer of the Year for the Ambulance Service, Darryl Schlodder for the Volunteer Rescue Association, Ian Cox for the Rural Fire Service, Stewart Arnold for the Police Force and Ken Lawrence for Fire & Rescue.
Rotary District 9675 governor Barry Antees said the annual initiative was started four years ago by the Rotary Clubs of the Illawarra to acknowledge the achievements of local emergency services personnel.
Mr Antees announced that as of 2015, the awards would start rolling out across the region.
"Rotary's Pride of the Illawarra Awards have proved such a great success over the past four years that I am pleased to announce Rotary will be expanding the initiative across all of Rotary District 9675 next year," Mr Antees said.
"The district covers the area from Sydney CBD in the north to Kiama in the south, and west to the base of the Great Dividing Range.
"Congratulations to Dot Hennessy, Carole and Ian Johnston and the whole Rotary team for creating such a worthwhile event; and to all Rotarians and emergency services personnel who worked diligently building a strong and lasting project that will soon expand.
"It is wonderful that we have this opportunity to acknowledge those who give so much to the community on a daily basis."