Wollongong-born NSW Governor David Hurley launched new statewide emergency services community awards on Wednesday but ended up sharing the spotlight with his wife Linda Hurley.
General Hurley, who grew up in Warrawong, has agreed to be the new patron of the Rotary NSW Emergency Services Community Awards that started in his home town as the Pride of the Illawarra Awards four years ago.
Illawarra Rotary clubs were so successful with the annual recognition of emergency service personnel who exemplify Rotary's "Service Above Self" motto that Rotary District 9675 governor Barry Antees and commissioners and deputy commissioners of many of the emergency services saw the potential of making it a statewide event.
And 2015 is the first year.
General Hurley officially launched the awards and called for nominations from the community at Government House, Sydney, on Wednesday before accepting an invitation to inspect all emergency service personnel present and their equipment.
But when the Governor's wife saw the large ladder on one of the Fire & Rescue NSW units being elevated skywards for a photo opportunity involving all emergency service personnel, she asked if she could give it a go.
As Fire & Rescue NSW, Marine Rescue NSW, NSW Ambulance, NSW Rural Fire Service, NSW State Emergency Service and NSW Volunteer Rescue Association personnel looked on, Mrs Hurley was placed in a harness by Graeme Horst and Andrew Riepma, of Fire & Rescue NSW, and elevated skyward as the Governor watched in support.
Fittingly it occurred just days before International Women's Day.
At the same time, Jesy Pinkerton of Wollongong was one of four finalists waiting for the announcement of who would be NSW Young Woman of the Year at the 2015 NSW Women of the Year Awards.
Ms Pinkerton did not win but flew the flag proudly for young women of the Illawarra.
Mrs Hurley said she made a spur-of-the-moment decision when she noticed what was happening as preparations were made to put a photographer in the sky.
"When I saw it going up I thought 'wow this looks amazing'," Mrs Hurley said. "So I said 'can I go up?' It was fantastic. I was impressed with Graeme and Andrew's professionalism. They made me feel really safe."
Mr Riepma said they practised every day so it was not problem having a dignitary such as the Governor's wife give it a go.
Finalists for the Rotary NSW Emergency Services Community Awards will be announced in August.
Emergency Services personnel and the public are encouraged to submit nominations before the closing date on May 6.
Nomination forms and more information are available at RotaryESCawards.org.au.