The name Geoff Eather is synonymous with the Boggabri Drovers' Campfire. But what some people may not know is that he has also been instrumental in keeping the town's SES going.
The 78-year-old has stepped down as controller after 32 years in the position and handed the reins to fellow member Victoria Gunther.
It is a fitting transition, as Mr Eather stepped into the position in 1986 after the death of Victoria's grandfather, Norm Patterson, who was "very instrumental in getting state emergency going here in Boggabri" after the 1971 flood in the Namoi Valley.
Mr Eather said he joined the SES in 1973 when it was "in its infancy" and dealing with regular flooding in the region.
"We were mainly doing flood work; our roles evolved in later years. We didn't seem to have a lot of storms then," he said.
A major flood in 1974 saw the SES well and truly occupied, helping to move stock and deliver food in a flood boat donated by the Rotary Club.
"A lot of food was delivered in those, days because people were more isolated," Mr Eather said.
"We'd take boats out to deliver people to cut fences. We quite often took sheep and put them in a flood boat and took them to higher ground."
Norm's position as pool manager became handy, as the SES could store their flood boats in the complex for easy access.
[The SES] was for civil defence then, rather than what it is these days.Geoff Eather
Mr Eather said they lacked equipment and had to borrow shire vehicles to transport their boats until the Lions Club donated an ex-ambulance.
"The Lions Club was very helpful. They helped us build the current building we're in and they actually provided most of the labour for the build," he said.
"Over the years as more funding has become available to SES, it became easier to obtain equipment. A lot of the time in the early days if you needed something, you had to fundraise or someone had to donate it.
"We had secondhand uniforms and Second World War backpacks and first-aid kits when I first joined.
"[The SES] was for civil defence then, rather than what it is these days."
One thing Mr Eather never expected was to wind up as controller, but the death of Norm changed that.
"The shire controller came to a meeting after Norm passed away and he said, 'Well, to keep this service going, we've got to have a controller'," Mr Eather said.
"I thought there'd be a couple put up their hands but there weren't, and I said, 'I won't see all Norm's work lost here, so I'll have a go at it'.
In the three decades since, the "born and bred" Boggabri man has seen "massive changes".
"We've got lots of equipment now, where we hardly had any in the older days," Mr Eather said.
"There are a lot more restraints on what you can do - you've got to be a lot more careful now and there's a lot of paperwork attached to everything these days. [But] it's still rewarding, like with Victoria taking over."
The time comes that you've got to move on and let someone else do what you've tried to do for your community.Geoff Eather
Mr Eather said in that, its earlier days, the SES had a wonderful "family atmosphere".
"One stage, I think in the mid '70s, some of the floods went on for quite a period and, in those days, quite a few of our wives were members as well and they used to run the kitchen up there in the shed," he said.
"We were well-looked after and it was a real big family affair.
"The community spirit we had as a unit really stood out. It was really disappointing over the years as people moved away for one reason or another."
In recent years, the local unit has struggled to attract new members and hit crisis point in 2016.
"We were running in trouble before we had a meeting here and Victoria put her hand up [to join]. And Gunnedah [SES] helped a lot," Mr Eather said.
As the SES's role and responsibilities continue to evolve, Mr Eather feels it's high time he steps aside as controller, and Victoria took over on April 25.
"The time comes that you've got to move on and let someone else do what you've tried to do for your community," Mr Eather said.
"I think the fact that [Victoria's] a younger generation, I think she will be more able to cope with the changes we experience.
"I'll be in the background and, if they need help, I'll be happy to be of assistance if I can.
"The idea now is that it's their show and they can run it now."
But Mr Eather will remain in the SES for the time being because "there's a lack of experience with local floods".
"If and when we have [a major flood], we'll be able to help out some of the newer members with our experience, because it is rather daunting out there when it's in flood," he said.
As he reflects on the past 32 years, Mr Eather can confidently say "I've thoroughly enjoyed my years in SES", and he knows the service is in good hands.
"[Victoria's] keen and her heart's in the right place and especially the fact that her grandfather was so involved for SES," he said.
"I think she's in the right place to do a good job."
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