Kiama SES stalwart honoured on Queen's Birthday

David Leigh has dedicated decades to the emergency services, and was awarded an Emergency Service medal, as part of the 2019 Queen's Birthday Honours.

Mr Leigh is one of three NSW SES members who have been recognised for their dedication and commitment to their communities.

During the past 25 years, Mr Leigh has undertaken various roles within the NSW SES and has led and supported the Kiama community during multiple emergency responses.

"It was very unexpected, but I really appreciate it," Mr Leigh said on Monday, June 10.

"I do enjoy it, it's doing something for the community that satisfies the way I can contribute.

"And it just gives me an opportunity to do things which I would never have done in my career or my normal life."

Mr Leigh said he got the most enjoyment from watching the development of new recruits.

"I got a great deal of pleasure from when new, younger members came in, and would then pursue a career in emergency services after their time with the SES," he said.

"In some cases they actually changes careers after experiencing the SES in Kiama, and pursued further studies in emergency management and are employed in emergency agencies."

He said the incident which stood out was Kiama tornado of 2013.

"Where I live, up near the little blowhole we had no damage," he said.

"I got the message at 3am, and I was looking out the window and couldn't see anything.

"As I got closer to headquarters, the damage became very visible. That was surreal in many ways, driving out of an area that was untouched into an area that had all that debris and destruction."

However, he said that attending emergencies was a small - though crucial - part of the job.

"You do see some things which you have to resolve in yourself whether you do want to continue in that field," he said.

"Incidents can happen suddenly and instantly, and you have to be ready for that, but it's only a small part of your commitment to the organisation

"It's very much a team effort."

He said he has no plans to ever leave the SES.

"I have no plans to not continue with it - I still enjoy what I'm doing," he said.

"I think the members there in their graciousness tend to humour me a little bit ,and allow me to continue."