State Emergency Services awards Bob Drewer, 78, for 45 years of dedicated service to Cooranbong crew

AT age 78, State Emergency Services volunteer Bob Drewer, of Cooranbong, might not be the steorotypical poster boy for the SES.

A back injury sustained in the 1980s has seriously impacted his mobility and strength.

But he is living proof that you don't have to be young, strong and able to climb onto rooftops during wicked storms to be valued by the organisation.

Mr Drewer recently received a third clasp to the National Medal, representing 45 years of diligent service to the SES unit at Cooranbong.

He didn't think the recent medal presentation, made by Deputy Zone Commander Peter Green, was necessary. And he was quick to downplay the notion that he was unique or special.

"In fact, quite a few of our other members are seniors," Mr Drewer said.

But he is the longest serving active member of the Cooranbong crew.

While Mr Drewer's days of climbing roofs or trudging through swamps to search for missing persons have passed, he has continued to serve his community through the SES.

He joined the then Civil Defence crew at Cooranbong on October 6, 1970. (Civil Defence would be renamed and repurposed as the SES later in the 1970s.)

It was Cold War times, and Mr Drewer recalled there was a very different focus to the organisation then.

"It wasn't just floods and storms they were concerned about. They said they also needed wardens who could be the eyes and ears of the community who could, in the event of a disaster, report back on what was needed," he said.

"And part of that was in the event of nuclear war.

"I thought it was a really good community service so I joined the warden section first."

An interest in portable radios saw him earn his amateur radio licence, and shift to the SES's communications group.

That role has included communicating with SES personnel in the field, during searches, rescues and flood reconnaissance.

For years, he has run the communications course for new members at Cooranbong.

A former lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education, Mr Drewer said his expertise in radio had come to the fore in the SES.

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