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Community & Business

24 April, 2023

Belinda Estens honoured as one of Australia’s ‘Hidden Treasures’

One of Tooraweenah’s “hidden treasures” — known for her volunteering for the Rural Fire Service — has been acknowledged for her hard work, dedication, and passion for helping people.

By Emily Middleton

Belinda Estens has been named on the Honour Roll of “Australian Hidden Treasures”, an award that celebrates women volunteers across the nation. Humbled and very surprised, Ms Estens, who was born and raised in Tooraweenah, was grateful for the acknowledgement.

“It was very overwhelming to receive it,” she said.

“I had never heard for it before, so it was just amazing to learn about it, and it is an honour.

“I had just been to Western Australia for deployment to help with the floods over there, I was coming back and received an email and thought, what’s this all about?” she added.

Ms Estens grew-up watching her father captain the Tooraweenah Brigade, and was inspired by his hard work and the camaraderie that came with it.

“The times have changed from now and then. Back then, what they had to do to fight fires, and what equipment they had, compared to now days, is just amazing,” she said.

“The change of the trucks, the equipment that’s now available, not the bags that you had to hit the fires with, plus the training that they have available now, is fantastic,” she exclaimed.

Now into her 24th year with the Armidale RFS, she couldn’t be prouder of the work her father did, and the work her teammates do daily.

“It’s being involved in the community, and you don’t have to be paid to do everything, that’s how I see it. I give my time up to provide for the community, and I love it,” Ms Estens said.

“The comradeship you get, the teamwork, and just the skills and experience you gained through that - volunteers give so much to their rural communities.”

Being a primary school teacher’s aid, Ms Estens gets to see her work inspire others in practice. The Armidale RFS team are currently working on community engagement school programs, and are in the process of organising an awareness day for the students.

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