Chelsea SES celebrate big birthday

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Happy birthday: Chelsea SES unit were joined by Kingston mayor Cr Steve Staikos in celebrating their birthday Picture: Gary Sissons

CHELSEA SES unit have passed a significant milestone, as they celebrated their 65th birthday with an event on 9 November.

SES volunteer Phil Wall said the event went well and was a great celebration of 65 years of hard work.

“It was a lovely day. It all went really well,” he said.

“I’ve been asked what Chelsea SES is, and I’ve been there for 15 years and we have a couple of members who have been there 25. Over my years and the 40 years I’ve lived in Chelsea, the area has changed so much in that time.

“There is brand new areas here, there was no Aspendale Gardens, Patterson Lakes was just starting, they’ve all changed now.

“The demographic of the area has changed too, the type of housing has changed, we’re seeing so many more subdivided areas now.

“As far as the SES units go, our equipment is so different now, it’s cutting edge technology. We have new vehicles and all of that stuff to help us with anything people need us for. That all changes and there’s a constant changing force. The one thing that has never changed though, the one constant, is the people.

“Chelsea SES is the people, the ordinary people who that walk through those gates, put on the orange outfit, and help people when they need it.”

Chelsea SES lays claim to being the longest ongoing unit in Victoria now they have passed the 65 year milestone. The unit began in 1953 as the Civil Defence Unit, before taking the name of Chelsea SES in 1975.

The unit has 50 volunteer members active, with one being the 2018 Premier’s Volunteer Champion award winner Ron Fitch.

Mr Fitch has also been recognised by Kingston Council as their Outstanding Citizen of the Year, and been awarded life member status by VICSES.

The unit had volunteers attend the scene of numerous major events in the state’s history, such as the West Gate bridge collapse and the Black Saturday bushfires.

Mr Wall said attending the 2009 bushfires was his most significant memory with the unit.

“The one that sticks in my mind more than anything is Black Saturday, because we were one of the first units in there, we were there 7 o’clock in Whittlesea on the Sunday morning. We did 17 hours straight there.”

Chelsea SES continue to remain active, and respond to around 300 calls for assistance each year.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 14 November 2018

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