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Helping seems “natural” to OAM recipient

It seems natural for Edgar Gaunt to roll up his sleeves and set about helping. It’s that attitude that has seen the committed community volunteer recognised for his service to Camden and Cobbitty with an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Mr Gaunt has been recognised for his service to the Rural Fire Service and community in different capacities.

“I enjoy helping people,” Mr Gaunt said.

“I sometimes get into trouble for putting my hand up,’ he said with a smile on his face. The Camden local said giving a hand when required in the community just seems natural and it stems from his childhood growing up in Victoria, to his time in Western NSW to more recently as a resident of Cobbitty.

He feels humbled by the award and said doing his bit is about being “part of the community”.

“Helping neighbours when they need it.” It’s something he has done both figuratively and literally.

His wife Jennifer of 43 years agrees he has “put a lot of time and effort over the years”.

“He is very generous with his time.”

His contribution to the community has been vast and includes:

Camden West Brigade, NSW Rural Fire Service – deputy captain, since 2018.

Cobbitty Rural Fire Brigade, NSW Rural Fire Service member since 1990 to becoming captain from 2003-15.

Volunteer, Cobbitty Village Market Day Committee, since 2009 and Cobbitty Aids Leukaemia Foundation (CALF), 1991-2001.

ommittee member, since 2015.

Including five years as groundsman.

His other volunteering positions included: Saving St Matthias' Church – raised funds to halt the sale of a 175 year old family heritage church in Tasmania, 2018; Torch Relay, Sydney Olympics, 2000; Volunteer, Rhett's Foundation, 1990s; Volunteering, Junior Red Cross and Scouts, Victoria, and; Member, Apex Clubs, 1987.

He strongly believes in volunteering and his heartened that younger people are stepping up – especially joining the RFS.

At the height of the Green Wattle Creek fire in December 2019, Mr Gaunt and the local brigades including Camden West were working constantly.

“On December 19 2019 at Bargo we rescued an old couple.”

He remembered later that day two RFS volunteers were killed when their fire truck was hit by a tree at Buxton.

“It was an absolutely bad day.”

During that time of battling blazes, both volunteers and the community were working on different levels, but all for the same cause.

“It brought out the best in the community and our guys.” Mr Gaunt a father and grandfather has no intention of stopping and will continue to volunteer as long as he is able.

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