Heather Turner is Ballarat's 2014 volunteer of the year

SES volunteer Heather Turner, centre, pictured with Rob Mitchell and Norm Baker. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK
SES volunteer Heather Turner, centre, pictured with Rob Mitchell and Norm Baker. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

WHEN there's an emergency, Heather Turner is there to help.

"When the pager goes off, if the job's appropriate for us to do it, then we just go," she says.

Since 1999, Ms Turner has been volunteering with the SES, from pouring cups of tea and coffee for weary drivers to supporting CFA crews during the disastrous Black Saturday bushfires.

On Saturday night, she was crowned the City of Ballarat Volunteer of the Year at the United Way Volunteer Recognition Awards. Ms Turner also received the Power FM Emergency Award for Individuals.

"It was a bit overwhelming, but it was nice in hindsight to reflect and to be recognised for the work that we do," she said of getting up on stage.

"I certainly didn't expect either of those awards, especially the second one."

Ms Turner said the award was a reflection of the hard work of all SES volunteers, not just her own.

"In SES there's no 'I' in 'team'," she said.

Ms Turner also thanked her husband and family.

"Without their love and support I'm not able to take off like I do," she said.

"To see the smile on everyone's faces when they return safely is very rewarding"

Heather Turner

Ms Turner first joined the SES at the age of 58 or 59 (she can't remember – "age doesn't matter," she says) with her friend Win Knight.

"I went along with another lady and they were telling us what they did, and one of the things they did was 'driver reviver' and I thought, 'I can do that'," she said.

"It was called 'coffee break' back in those days."

After starting out with tea and coffee, Ms Turner began to take on other duties as well.

"Other members starting coaxing us out, just come out on the truck and see what we do," she said.

"Before we knew it we were both actively involved in that unit."

Today Ms Turner is qualified and experienced with chainsaws, first aid, hazardous materials, floods and search and rescue operations. It's the search jobs that are among the most rewarding.

"To see the smile on everyone's faces when they return safely is very rewarding," she said.

Ms Turner invited anyone thinking of joining the SES to talk to a member about how to get started.

"Monday is the beginning of our flood safe week so we will have a trailer at Bunnings, and also at Central Square. They can ask about volunteering there," she said.

"They're also always welcome to come up to our unit on Gillies Street on a Tuesday night to see what we do and see how we train."


The Courier Community Service Awards

Individual - Helen Bath, Voice FM

Group or organisation - CAFS Ballarat Foster Carers

Sovereign Hill Community Health and Care Awards

Individual - Gordon Williamson, Bowel Scan Program

Group or organisation - Wendouree West Exodus Leadership Team

ACU Education Awards

Individual - Tony Davidson, RODE Rage

Group or organisation - Parent Place

City of Ballarat Youth Awards

Individual - Damien Ganley, FedUni Leadership Roles

Group or organisation - LARF (Life skills, Activities, Relationships and Fun) Mentors

Power FM Emergency Awards

Individual - Heather Turner, SES Ballarat

Group or organisation - Ballarat Fire Brigade

Sports Central Sport Awards

Individual - Stuart Bates, Special Olympics Ballarat

Group or organisation - Eureka Gymnastics Club Committee

Peter Kervarec Arts Awards

Individual - Garry West, Ballarat Vocal Arts Association

Group or organisation - Voice FM

Win Network Event Award

Friends of Ballarat Pony Club

City of Ballarat Volunteer of the Year Award

Heather Turner, SES Ballarat