June 22, 2024 10:28 PM

RFS Leader Honoured to have Served his Community



Singleton’s Graeme O’Brien could not help but smile when reflecting on his recent NSW Rural Fire Service retirement celebration.

The former Group Officer, who served the region from 1971-2019, was celebrated by family, friends, RFS leaders and special guests at a retirement ceremony held at the Singleton Rugby Club on Saturday, February 25.

“I was overjoyed, absolutely flabbergasted and certainly wasn’t expecting it,” he told The Hunter River Times.

“I knew that there was to be a presentation just to formally recognise what I have done but this was the full story.”

Graeme was born in Sydney and briefly raised in Coffs Harbour before his family moved back to Concord for the second half of his childhood.

After a brief teaching stint at Wagga Wagga he then called Singleton home in 1970 and, with the support of his loving wife Susannah, joined the Westbrook Rural Fire Service the following year.

“I have always believed that when you live in a country town then you are in a position to contribute to a range of opportunities in that town and you have a responsibility to do it,” he added.

The celebration included addresses from Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell – representing Steph Cooke (Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience), Labor candidate Peree Watson – representing Dan Repacholi (Federal Member for Hunter), Singleton Councillor Val Scott and Chief Superintendent Kam Baker AFSM.

He then received a plaque in addition to a commemorative framed mobile phone, a playful send off as one speaker remarked he was known to lose his phone.

On top of his service and career as a teacher at Singleton and Wallsend High Schools, he has also been a past president of the Rotary Club of Singleton on Hunter.

“In any position you take during your life, either on a voluntary basis or on a formal working basis, you need to be qualified formally,” he concluded.

“Make sure you have those qualifications and then using those qualifications in the communities that you live gives you a chance to improve those communities.”