Highland FM celebrates the region’s Everyday Heroes

The radio station is reaching out to share stories of people behind the scenes during the fires that hit the Southern Highlands and in the wake of the devastation.

Station manager Adam Stokeld said that the New Year began the way that it finished.

“Fires were burning with such ferocity that the whole of the Southern Highlands was under threat,” he said.

“Late December fires were burning in the Green Wattle Creek area, then without mercy, Buxton and Balmoral were almost wiped out. By early January a new catastrophic fire front had hit from the south raging through to Wingello, Bundanoon and (Exeter). More properties were lost.

“The devastating and heart-wrenching impact on our wildlife is so severe that it may never recover.

“What remains in the ashes is the personal cost of suffering, stress and vulnerability that will live on in some, for a lifetime. The residents in Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale and beyond look at the forest that surrounds them and can only think of what might have been.”

Mr Stokeld said his team at Highland FM along with many others in the community could not help but ponder the question “Where would we be without our firefighters and volunteers?”

“Then there’s the anxiety of not knowing how to help. There is no doubt that we all want to play a role in saving our community, to help those who are helping us,” he said.

“When Carolynn Clisdell a volunteer member of the Mittagong RFS contacted Highland FM calling for volunteers to make sandwiches to feed the firefighters, she had no idea the impact her request would have on our community.

“Within minutes of broadcasting on Highland FM, her phone ran hot. Carolynn was calling for volunteers to make up to 1000 sandwiches per day.

“The response was so overwhelming she contacted the station urgently to pull the request off air as the rosters were already full.”

Mr Stokeld said that just prior to Christmas Eve the station was gifted with several fruit cakes and a beautiful, large gingerbread house.

He said it was an easy decision to re gift the offering to the firefighters so they could share a taste of joy on Christmas Day.

Mr Stokeld said that “still today, the volunteers are making sandwiches and lunch bags to feed our firefighters.”

He said he had learned from RFS senior deputy captain Annette Webb that more than 20,000 lunch bags had been made over the past nine weeks.

He said Ms Webb told the station in one of its everyday heroes segments that “some lunch bags had been dropped in by helicopter.”

“She said she was very proud of the support and commitment of the volunteers who have been working seven days a week to feed our firies in the field,” Mr Stokeld said.

“Ms Webb described all as unsung heroes doing their best every day to save us, our properties, our towns and our livelihoods.”

Mr Stokeld said stories of everyday heroes will be shared at several times and on various programs throughout each week.

To nominate an everyday hero or share a story email contact@highlandfm.org.au