A photo of NSW Ambulance Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan addresses attendees at an Ambulance Legacy event  at Temora Ambulance Museum on 22 October 2022. Dr Morgan is standing in front of pull up banners and a NSW Ambulance vehicle.
NSW Ambulance Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan addresses Ambulance Legacy Members at Temora Ambulance Museum on 22 October

Not even the clouds and rain could dampen the enthusiasm of Ambulance Legacy members, as they gathered in Temora for a much anticipated special event on Saturday 22 October.

On offer were Ambulance Service medal presentations, a tour of the Temora Ambulance Museum, morning tea, lunch, and needless to say, the rekindling of lifelong friendships.

More than 100 former Ambulance Officers and their families and friends came to the event, which was co-hosted by NSW Ambulance Legacy and the Riverina Retired Ambulance Officers Association.

Attendees came from regional centres like Wagga Wagga and Albury, from Sydney and Canberra, even from as far away as Ballina.

Flooding across inland NSW kept a few away, but most managed to make the journey, including NSW Ambulance Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan and Assistant Commissioner Tony Gately.

“Legacy events are a wonderful opportunity to catch up with really great comrades and chew the fat,” said Event MC Bill Williams – known to all as ‘2Bills’.

“It’s very humbling and so important to be recognised, to be told that your service at Ambulance was important, for former staff and especially for their families.”

Bill served in NSW Ambulance from 1976 to 2001 – beginning his career as a paramedic in Wagga Wagga and finishing up as a Sector Manager in the Illawarra.

After he left NSW Ambulance, 2Bills, fellow retired officer Leo Watts and Leo’s wife Doreen would arrange occasional lunches and dinners with other retired officers under the banner of the Riverina Region, then encompassing Greater Murray Region Retired Ambulance Officers Association.

Bill, Leo and Doreen are still arranging gettogethers. In fact they were instrumental in putting on the Temora event, along with Lee Clout, Jan Williams and Kate McKenzie.

After a welcome morning tea, official proceedings began in the Ambulance Museum – part of the Temora’s Bundawarrah Centre complex.

Service recognised

Leo Watts, NSW Ambulance’s first recorded Aboriginal Ambulance Officer, gave a Wiradjuri Welcome to Country.

Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan then began the service medal presentation ceremony by warmly thanking the former staff members for their selfless, dedicated service to this organisation and the wider community.

“Many of you would be familiar with the phrase ‘Standing on the shoulders of giants’.

“It couldn’t be more apt at our organisation, given the invaluable knowledge and skills our retired members have imparted on those who followed in their footsteps,” said Dr Morgan.

“Our Legacy members have paved the way for today’s clinicians and Control Centre staff,” Dr Morgan said.

During the service medal presentation, a total of 16 former officers or their surviving family members received a formal statement of service.

Eight former Officers or their representatives received Long Service and Good Conduct Medals, while two received the National Medal clasp.

Leo and Doreen Watts and 2Bills also got a surprise Certificate of Recognition for their work for the Riverina Association.

A photo of Michelle Stokes of Ambulance Legacy and Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan speaking at a special event to honour the service of former NSW Ambulance Riverina staff at the Temora Ambulance Museum on 22 October 2022.
NSW Ambulance Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan and Acting Legacy Coordinator Michelle Stokes at Temora Ambulance Museum

Behind the scenes tour

Dr Morgan also paid tribute to Temora Ambulance Museum including the late Eddie Sams and current Museum Manager Bill Speirs for their tireless work sourcing and restoring NSW Ambulance memorabilia, particularly vehicles, from across the state.

The Museum’s collection of vintage ambulances includes “boot loader” ambulances from the 1930s, FJ Holden’s from the 1950s, as well as Ford Falcon and Fairlane ambulances from the 1970s – all restored to working order.

There’s also Australia’s first dedicated Ambulance Rescue vehicle, the “Q Van”.

For anyone interested in a trip to Temora, in March 2023 the vintage ambulances will get taken for a drive around the parade ground in the Museum complex.

Bill Speirs, who also received a Certificate of Recognition, spoke passionately about the Museum and Temora’s shovel-ready plans for a $20 million upgrade to the Ambulance exhibition space.

He then led guests on a behind-the-scenes tour, which included the overflow sheds for items not on public display, and the Museum’s underground vault.

Legacy Members, their family and community attendees were then treated to a barbecue luncheon kindly prepared by the Bundawarrah Centre volunteers.

Many Legacy members who came to Temora for the event, stayed on and went out to dinner afterwards, chewing the fat well into the night.

“It was a fabulous opportunity for all to remember old times and engage in some friendly banter,” Acting Legacy Coordinator Michelle Stokes said.

“Thanks to all who made the trip. We’re already looking to schedule another event in Temora next year.”