Award ‘really special’ for brigade

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The Alexandra Volunteer Fire Brigade has won a few awards during the 10 years it has entered the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge, but its latest award is the most meaningful of all, brigade members say.
The team won the challenge’s national FireUp Events Award, also known as the Patu award, at the May 28 challenge in recognition of the brigade’s contribution to the event.
‘‘We’ve won a few awards over the years but this one is really special,’’ Alexandra brigade Deputy Chief Fire Officer Mark Hutton said.
‘‘It’s a prestigious award and we’re stoked to get it. It was pretty moving to receive it.’’
The award was given to a brigade that exhibited ‘‘outstanding commitment’’ to the challenge, Mr Hutton said.
The Alexandra brigade was the first South Island brigade to enter the event, in 2007. This was the 10th year the brigade entered a team and it has raised almost $50,000 for the challenge during that time. All money from the challenge goes to Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
Mr Hutton praised all from throughout the district who had taken part in the challenges and wanted to emphasise the team nature of the event.
‘‘That’s what it’s all about. That’s what’s really important.’’
The Alexandra team members had a special mascot with them during this year’s challenge, a teddy bear in honour of Omakau boy Frans Du Plessis (8), who is undergoing treatment for leukaemia.
The teddy bear climbed the Sky Tower twice with Alexandra firefighters during the challenge, once with Kevin Malcolm and once with Stacey Waldron, and symbolised the importance of the work Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand did and the strength of those it helped, Mr Hutton said.
Central Otago and Clutha Valley firefighters gained several awards at this year’s challenge, he said.
Jason Bopp, of Wanaka, was third in the Firefighter of Steel category, the Waitahuna Volunteer Fire Brigade was second in the fundraising category for brigades with 2-5 team members at the event, and the Frankton Volunteer Fire Brigade was third in the same category.