Resident Stories | South West Rocks

Local retirees’ valiant bushfire efforts recognised

On the 26th of June, Ingenia Lifestyle South West Rocks residents Ron Rider and Geoff Evans were awarded The National Emergency Medal for their volunteering efforts during the 2019 and 2022 New South Wales Bushfires.

Established by Queen Elizabeth in 2011, The National Emergency Medal is awarded to recipients who honorably give their service during a nationally significant emergency.

Already a recipient of the medal for his service during the 2002 Canberra fires, Mr Rider said he was extremely proud to be recognised for his efforts once again.

“It was just such an honour to be recognised. I sent a photo of my medal to my daughters, and they were so proud and so happy for me,” he said.

During the 2019 and 2020 fires, Mr Rider volunteered right on the fire grounds and said the experience was heartbreaking.

“It was devastating to see all of the destruction going on and all the loss of homes and lives. It’s just a part of the job though so I carried on and pushed through. We all did our job and what we had to do,” he said.

When asked why volunteering was so important to him, Mr Rider said he’s always been community minded and loves to help where he can.

“I’ve always cared about my community. Before firefighting I was a volunteer surf lifesaver for many years. I got into the Rural Fire Service when my daughter finished high school. She was interested in joining and I said, ‘Ok let’s go’ and we both joined together,” he said.

“My neighbour Geoff and I are both part of the RFS – it’s great to be in a community with likeminded people.

“That’s why I love living at Ingenia Lifestyle South West Rocks. Everyone is really friendly and community minded. We have neighbours here who also volunteer in the local Marine Rescue and with the SES.”

Fellow South West Rocks resident, Mr Geoff Evans had previously served with Mr Rider during the 2002 Canberra fires with both rushed to the location as Strike Teams before joining forces again to fight the 2019-2020 bushfires.

Although an injury sustained from Mr Evans time in the Navy meant he was unable to volunteer on the frontlines during the 2019-2020 fires, Mr Evans wanted to help in any way he could, offering catering and logistics for the firefighters working on the frontline.

Geoff and Ron receiving their medals

Mr Evans said he was humbled to receive his National Emergency Medal.

“I was just gobsmacked when we got the medals! We were just doing what we were trained to do, which is to protect our communities. It was really lovely to be recognised and awarded for our efforts, but we don’t do this job for the recognition,” he said.

Mr Evans had also received medals and citations of honour for his brave efforts during the 1994 Sydney fires, 2001 Shoalhaven fires and 2002 Canberra fires.

Mr Evans said it was in his blood to be a firefighter.

“My father was a fireman for 35 years. I wasn’t allowed in the firetruck with him as I was only 15, so I’d run to the fires myself!

“I was also in the Navy for 25 years and did firefighting tasks in this role. After the 1994 fires in Sydney, a group of us got shipped out to fight the fires in the Georges River area and after that I decided to join the Huskisson Rural Brigade on the South Coast as part of the breathing apparatus team,” he said.

Mr Evans now resides in Ingenia Lifestyle South West Rocks with his wife, Alison, and loves how caring and compassionate his community is.

“It’s a great place and a great neighbourhood. It’s really lovely volunteering alongside Ron. So many of the residents in this community are really caring and like to get involved and volunteer for other local services and causes,” he said.


Interested in moving to an Ingenia Lifestyle over 55’s community, see our upcoming community locations here.