A LOOK back over Chelsea SES controller Ron Fitch’s ‘CV’ shows he has attended every major natural disaster in Victoria over the past three years.
Bushfires, floods, house fires, car accidents and storms – even a light plane crash in Chelsea last week – have found him hard at work caring for victims, cleaning up debris and, generally, putting in the hard yards.
That commitment and dedication was rewarded last week when Mr Fitch was recognised as a Paul Harris Fellow by Chelsea Rotary – the highest award Rotary has – for his selfless service. Coincidentally, the Rotarians were celebrating their own 60th birthday on the night.
A member for the past 22 years, Mr Fitch said he joined the SES because he “wanted to do something for the community”.
Memorable roles included helping victims survive devastating floods in the state’s north and east in 2011. A crew from Chelsea made three deployments to assist those in under-water areas, helping with flood prevention and checking isolated properties by boat.
Then it was back on his home turf – and straight to work assisting with floods in the Thames Promenade and Edithvale Rd wetlands areas.
Drama at the other end of the disaster spectrum saw him battling bushfires around Kinglake and Whittlesea in the wake of Black Saturday.
“Floods cost more than bushfires – but they are both devastating to those affected,” he said.
Mr Fitch, 59, of Sturdee St, has lived in Chelsea for the past 28 years.
“I love the camaraderie of the SES and the friendships I have made – not just here but with other SES members all over Victoria.”
As one of eight members invited to attend the Rotary presentation at Chelsea Activity Hub he was the only one who didn’t know the name of the intended recipient. “Everyone else knew except me,” he recalled.
“I was gobsmacked when my name was called and couldn’t say much. I was a bit overwhelmed.”
Now semi-retired, he will keep on doing what he likes best: putting in for the community.
First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News