After a lengthy career, a former Illawarra resident now plans to turn a “lifetime of looking after volunteers into actually doing volunteer work myself”.
Lorna Calder celebrated a 36-year career in the public service at a function at Harbourfront, Wollongong on Saturday.
For the last 26 years of that time she was the manager of human resources with the State Emergency Service.
This Illawarra-based role encapsulated their statewide operations, as well as the organisation’s volunteers.
A long-time former Bulli resident, the 56-year-old retired in November.
“It’s been a really tumultuous couple of years, and I guess the fire went out of my belly after all that time,” she said. “I just thought, ‘you know what? It’s time to go’.”
Prior to the SES she worked with the likes of the Premier’s Department and the State Library.
“I guess over that period of time what I’ve seen is the SES grow into an extremely professional, well-organised and well-trained organisation with over 10,000 volunteers,” Mrs Calder said.
“They are at the coal-face of what happens when people are having the worst day of their lives.
“I was grateful to be able to support them with that.
“I saw them through lots of different things that happened, different disasters.
“The huge floods in the Hunter, the Sydney hailstorm, the Thredbo landslide.
“So I was there backing them up and making sure that they were able to be at their best for the community at that time.”
Celebrating with Mrs Calder was her husband, author Hunter Calder, her family and current and former SES staff and volunteers.
Three former SES commissioners/director-generals - Hori Howard, Philip McNamara and Murray Kear – also presented her with a long-service award.
Mrs Calder will now spend time at their Malua Bay property, where they relocated last year.
She plans to do volunteer work with her church and a sustainable agriculture group in Moruya.
“I’ve turned my lifetime of looking after volunteers into actually doing volunteer work myself,” she said.