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Community & Business

17 October, 2021

Commanders reappointed

Geoff Kiehne and Chris Riley have been re-assigned as Gilgandra unit commander and deputy unit commander, for another two years.

By Emily Middleton

Gilgandra SES unit commander Geoff Kiehne and deputy unit commander Chris Riley, outside the Gilgandra SES headquarters.

These volunteer roles are responsible for the day-to-day leadership and management of the unit and carry with them certain powers and authority for use in an emergency.

Starting his SES journey over 15 years ago, Mr Kiehne has been the Gilgandra unit commander for the past four years. “I get quite a lot of challenge out of leading a group of people in the community,” said Mr Kiehne.

“There was a big challenge here because at that stage when I took the role on, we knew there was a possibility of a new headquarters being built and I found that quite challenging, but a fair bit of fun.

“So, I took the role on knowing that there was that there to achieve, so there was a definite goal I suppose you could say sitting in front of me.” This is the second time Mr Kiehne has been reappointed as unit commander.

“The term is that you can get two years with a possible two years after that. So, I had the four years and after that if you wish to take on the role, you have to completely reapply again, so start from scratch which I did.”

Deputy unit commander, Mr Riley, has worked for Gilgandra SES for around 10 years.

“I’ve had nearly two years as deputy. My role is extended by the commander, Geoff, who makes a recommendation to be extended which was done last week,” said Mr Riley.

“I’ve taken on the deputy position to assist Geoff in his role, knowing there was going to be a new headquarters and all that.

“There’s a lot of work behind the scenes for both of us to get this on the ground to where it is at the moment and give back to the community and support the members.”

Despite the administration, it’s the experience of being deeply involved in the community that keeps Mr Kiehne and Mr Riley coming back.

“I think from my perspective its apart of seeing new members come into the organisation and grow.

“It’s quite rewarding seeing new people develop, and knowing that you’ve had a part in that, at a least a part in that process,” said Mr Kiehne.

“In some ways a lot of people might just lack self-confidence and being able to see them be put through some challenges in training and develop skills and knowledge, and then you look at that person 12 months later and they’re a totally different person.”

There’s a saying that goes the best feeling of happiness, is when you’re happy because you’ve made somebody else happy. Mr Kiehne has taken the time to reflect on this recently and has found the most rewarding part of being apart of the SES is watching the community grow from the unit’s support.

“Be it the person out in the road crash or be it the SES member, it’s what you do to help them grow and feel as though they’re being part of the community – that’s where I get my kicks from.”

This being said, it’s not always smooth sailing. Leadership often provides challenges and trying to please everyone is genuinely impossible.

“Just generally dealing with different sort of people, that have different needs, wants, desires, abilities.

“Being able to balance that so you can make most people happy, you sadly can’t make most people happy, personally I find that interesting,” said Mr Kiehne.

Mr Kiehne and Mr Riley are both very proud to continue on [in] these roles and to continue to support and serve the Gilgandra community.

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