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Disasters and recovery – Harry Cramer’s 61 years of service with the SES

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Harry Cramer SES Tweed

Disasters and recovery – Harry Cramer’s 61 years of service with the SES

 

By Sarah Waters

Each Wednesday morning, you’ll find Harry Cramer OAM, 81, with a small but dedicated team of volunteers at the Tweed Heads SES Unit in Banora Point, servicing chainsaws, fuelling up rescue vehicles and emptying the bins.

After 61 years as a State Emergency Services (SES) member, he no longer goes out in the field, but rather does all the behind-the-scenes work, which often goes unnoticed.

“People don’t realise there is always that type of work that needs to be done by somebody,” Harry said.

“They’re all still important jobs.”

Although he may not be at the forefront of the action anymore, when it comes to natural disasters, Harry knows a thing or two about assisting people in emergency situations.

The humble and likeable personality was awarded an OAM in 2022 for his outstanding service and dedication to the SES.

He also holds the OBE award – he proclaims that his OBE stands for ‘Over Bloody Eighty.’

Harry joined the Civil Defence in Ku-ring-gai, Sydney, on August 18, 1963, when he was 21 years old.

“Over the years I had been a scout leader and a member of Belrose Bush Fire Brigade, then a retained firefighter at 37 Station, so it just followed on from that,” he said.

“As a young man, a group of us were all in the scouts together and then we joined the Civil Defence.

“The Civil Defence’s first director was Major General Sir Ivan Noel Dougherty. The Civil Defence later became the State Emergency Service of NSW.

Army soldiers standing in front of jeeps - Harry Carmer

The Ku-ring-gai Civil Defence Unit Signals Section in the Blue Mountains, from left, Dr Paul Jackson, Rick Forster, Antony Wyatt and Harry Cramer. Photo credit: Vincent O’Donnell the fifth member of the team.

“I have seen the unit go from what some would call ‘Dads Army’ to the very professional organisation it is today.

“We had little equipment back then, no vehicles or chainsaws; we were issued blue overalls that were surplus from the Second World War.

“Radio communication was initially WW11 radios being ex-army 122 Radio sets that operated on shortwave in the beginning.”

Harry was an electrician, and his skills became sought after.

He became one of the leaders of the Civil Defence Signals Section Unit and assisted the State Training Team in teaching new SES volunteers in cable laying for field telephones.

On January 18, 1977, Harry led a seven-man team from Ku-ring-gai to the Granville Rail Disaster, which remains the worst rail disaster in Australian history.

Harry and his team were one of the first group of responders on site.

The crowded commuter train, which was coming back from the Blue Mountains to Central, derailed and collided with the supports of a road bridge.

It collapsed onto the third and fourth carriages of the train.

The first carriage had been sliced at window height through the full length of the carriage.

Eighty-three people died in the incident.

Harry was part of a team of rescue workers extracting casualties from the accident.

“I was under the bridge assisting in the rescue when the bridge settled two inches,” he said.

“I was 34 at the time and my wife Ann and I, had a two-month-old daughter when it happened.

“That was probably the most impersonal disaster I’ve worked on, you just had to triage people, I know it sounds callas, but you had to look at it in a realistic manner.

“We couldn’t use powered tools either because LPG cylinders were on the train for heating and had raptured during the accident.

“The NSW Fire Brigade provided a ventilation fan to dispel the gas to prevent it from igniting.”

Harry Cramer, OAM, and his team attending the Granville Rail disaster

Harry Cramer, OAM, and his team were one of the first group of responders to attend the Granville Rail Disaster, which occurred 47 years ago. It remains the worst rail disaster in Australian history.

After the accident, more was learnt about ‘crush syndrome’ and many lives have been saved because of the knowledge gained from the accident.

On January 21, 1991, Harry remembers the sky turning cat’s eye green, just before ‘The Storm’ (of all storms) hit Sydney’s North Shore.

At the time, Harry, his wife Ann, and sister-in-law Trish, ran a camping shop in Thornleigh, Sydney, which they managed while raising their three young children.

“I said to Ann – you have to close up the shop,” he said.

“The storm in some areas had winds so strong, the experts said they were up to 230km/h.

“The winds demolished a number of high voltage transmission towers in Ku-ring-gai National Park and carried on taking out the glass in the Barrenjoey Lighthouse.”

Harry was a deputy controller and training officer with the Ku-ring-gai SES at the time.

He made a pathway through the storm to the Ku-ring-gai SES headquarters, where he assisted in the coordination of the recovery after the storm.

SES units and the Army came from across the state to help.

The Police, RFS and Salvation Army helped to feed 3000 rescue workers each day out of the SES HQ.

At 1am Harry’s eight-hour shift would start.

He helped to coordinate where the cranes and cherry pickers were needed during the storm’s clean up.

At 9am he left to work in his camping store for the rest of the day.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife Ann, Trish and my son David and his mate Nigel,” he said.

Harry’s unit was operational for three months and they were still doing jobs from the storm six months later.

600,000 tons of debris was carted away after it hit.

During the storm clean-up, Harry and his crew were approached by what he describes as a LOL (Little Old Lady) who asked if they could look at a tree in her backyard.

“There was a pine tree with a few damaged branches, the crew said they would clean that up for her, but the other one in the backyard looked ok,” he said.

“Then came the reply ‘but that’s not mine.’

“There stood a 30ft gum sitting bold upright in the lawn.

“The lady then told them ‘it wasn’t there before the storm’ it turned out that the tree had come three houses away.”

Harry Cramer SES Tweed

Harry Cramer is a SES life member with 61 years of service under his belt and counting

If Harry wasn’t dealing with storms, it was bushfires, search and rescue missions, crowd control, the 1997 Thredbo landslide and the 1999 hailstorm in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

Harry and Ann moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast 10 years ago, to be closer to their children and families, and he transferred to the Tweed Heads SES Unit.

During the 2022 floods, he was tasked with getting water to be distributed to residents who had their water supply cut off.

“I borrowed my son’s large trailer that I was able to fit two pallets of water on,” he said.

“I cleared out every Woolworths store from the border to Carrara (in the Gold Coast).

“The unit distributed over 20,000 bottles of water during the floods.

“Some people hadn’t had water for three days.

“People say where is the SES – well they are the SES, it’s just people like them, who have gone out of their way to get trained, and they’ve all got families too.”

And, if anyone is interested in signing up or even learning new practical skills, Harry said he and the SES team are more than happy for new members to join and become part of the service.

“We can teach people practical skills, so they know what to do in an emergency – how to throw a rope to people in distress, how to tie knots, how to pump water out of a swimming pool or a basement.

“Nobody comes into this organisation knowing how to do everything and there’s a job for everybody, even an old bloke like me.”

Harry credits the longevity of his service to the ongoing training opportunities, the mateship and the diverse backgrounds of individuals in the organisation.

Now, with six decades of service under his belt, an OAM and SES life membership, Mr Harry Cramer won’t step away from the SES anytime soon.

“I was brought up to be part of the community and that’s what it is all about,” said Harry Cramer.

If you are interested in joining the SES, please visit here.

 

For more Tweed Shire news, click here.

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GOLD COAST AIRPORTS ONGOING SUPPORT FOR FEMALE RUGBY LEAUGE

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Gold Coast Airport and Tweed Seagulls

GOLD COAST AIRPORTS ONGOING SUPPORT FOR FEMALE RUGBY LEAUGE

 

The collaboration between the Tweed Seagulls Women’s team and Gold Coast Airport has been a cornerstone of the team’s identity since its inception in 2019. Gold Coast Airport has proudly held the front-of-jersey naming rights sponsorship for the team since they joined the QRL statewide competition, and this partnership has evolved into a mutually beneficial alliance.

In anticipation of the 2024 BMD Premiership season, Gold Coast Airport and the Tweed Seagulls Women’s Team have announced the extension of their valuable partnership. Gold Coast Airport (GCA) played a pivotal role as the founding sponsor, igniting the Tweed Seagulls’ mission to promote female rugby league in our region. Six years on, their commitment to this cause remains steadfast, contributing to the sport’s rapid growth in female participation.

Built upon shared values and a vision to empower local female athletes, the partnership provides a platform for them to excel both on and off the field.

Brendon Lindsay, CEO of Tweed Seagulls, eagerly welcomed the return of Gold Coast Airport as the team’s major sponsor for the 2024 BMD season, expressing gratitude for their unwavering support over the past six years. Lindsay looks forward to nurturing this enduring partnership in the years to come.

Gold Coast Airport and Tweed Seagulls

left to right: Jasmin Morrissey – BMD Cup player: Brian McGuckin – Chief Property & Planning Officer Queensland Airports: Brendon Lindsay – CEO Tweed Seagulls: Tarryn Aiken – BMD Cup player and Australian Jillaroo

Brian McGuckin, Chief Property and Planning Officer of Queensland Airports Limited, echoed this sentiment, expressing GCA’s delight in renewing this significant partnership with Tweed Seagulls. He emphasised GCA’s longstanding commitment to supporting women in sports, a cause they have championed for years.

The participation of Australian Jillaroo legend Tarryn Aiken and Australian PM XIII star Jasmin Morrissey, both part of the Tweed Seagulls lineup for the 2024 BMD Cup, created excitement at the season’s kickoff.

Beyond business ties, the partnership between Tweed Seagulls and GCA extends into the community, advocating for inclusion and diversity. Both organisations are dedicated to creating a welcoming environment for individuals from all backgrounds and promoting equal opportunities.

A portion of Gold Coast Airport’s sponsorship is allocated to the Tom Searle Scholarship, supporting young athletes in their academic or professional endeavours. By endorsing this scholarship, GCA reaffirms its commitment to nurturing local talent and enhancing the community’s well-being. The recipients of the Tom Searle Scholarship will be announced at the 2024 Ladies Leaders in League Breakfast, scheduled for Wednesday, May 15th.

 

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Harwood tighten grip on minor premiership

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Aiden Tredinnick doesn't mind launching the ball to and over the boundary and has a licence to thrill when he resumes batting on 14no on Saturday.

Harwood tighten grip on minor premiership

 

By Tim Howard

Harwood looks to be in a prime position to snare the minor premiership in its first year back in the Clarence River first grade cricket competition.

After rolling Tucabia Copmanhurst for just 109, Harwood replied to be 1/60 at the end of day one at Harwood Oval.

In contrast its closest rival, Lawrence, has a contest on its hands against reigning premiers GDSC Easts, which racked up 6/196 from just 50 overs.

Tucabia’s modest 109 could have been worse except for innings of 37no from veteran Matt Pigg and 24 from Travis Anderson.

Dean Carroll, who smote 260no before Christmas for Harwood’s Lower Clarence first grade team, showed his talent with the ball opening the bowling and snaring 3/30.

He made two early breakthroughs and returned later to pick up the dangerous Matt Dougherty for 11.

Brothers Ben and Jacob McMahon picked up a pair of wickets as did the other opening bowler Troy Turner.

At 1/60 and with a wealth of batting in the sheds Harwood need only to snare first innings points to take the minor premiership.

Opener Maison Simmons is unbeaten on 29 and Coby Tabor is with him on 15no when play resumes on Saturday.

Lawrence, the only team to keep pace with the front runners this season, seem certain to take second spot.

They are in a battle with Easts at Lower Fisher Turf, Grafton.

Aiden Tredinnick doesn't mind launching the ball to and over the boundary and has a licence to thrill when he resumes batting on 14no on Saturday.

Aiden Tredinnick doesn’t mind launching the ball to and over the boundary and has a licence to thrill when he resumes batting on 14no on Saturday.

After a lean couple of games with the bat Easts all rounder Shannon Connor found form on Saturday with 70 from 92 balls.

His innings with five fours and a six was relatively sedate compared to his usual fireworks and has put his team in a highly competitive position going into day two.

Sean Walters with 36, Tom Gerrard, 24 and Matt Lobsey, with 20, all helped get the total competitive before players were forced to leave the field due to lightning and rain delays.

Big hitting Aiden Tredinnick is at the crease on 14no with Ted Lobsey, also on 14no.

They will be looking to get their score well past 200 and give their bowlers a formidable target to defend.

At Ellem Oval Souths Westlawn and Coutts Crossing also had to contend with the storm that hit Grafton on Saturday, with Coutts racking up 6/143 on the back of a stylish 72 from Lewis Chevalley.

Souths Westlawn legspinning all-rounder Brenden Cotton was the best of the bowlers with four wickets for 29 runs.

Chevalley and opening bat Tim Tilse 26, combined for an 88-run first wicket partnership that ended when Cotten bowled Tilse.

Four more wickets tumbled for the addition of 30 runs.

Coutts will have 11 overs to build on their total, although South Westlawn’s indifferent form with the bat in recent games might suggest they are in a comfortable position.

 

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Supporting Seniors Amid the Transition to a Cashless Society

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Supporting Seniors Amid the Transition to a Cashless Society

Supporting Seniors Amid the Transition to a Cashless Society

 

As the prevalence of cashless transactions continues to rise, concerns about the impact on seniors and their ability to access essential services have come to the forefront. While banknotes remain legal tender, the increasing preference for card or mobile payments by businesses poses challenges for older Australians, who may rely heavily on cash for their day-to-day transactions.

The recent incident involving Queensland Federal Member, Bob Katter, highlights the frustration faced by many seniors when attempting to use cash for purchases, only to be met with resistance from establishments that accept only electronic payments. This trend towards cashless transactions has been exacerbated by factors such as the shift towards online shopping during the pandemic and the closure of bank branches and ATMs.

For seniors, the transition to a cashless society presents significant challenges. Many may not have access to mobile phones or may lack the necessary technological skills to navigate electronic payment systems. Concerns about additional fees associated with card payments, as well as the potential for power outages disrupting digital transactions, further compound these challenges.

Supporting Seniors Amid the Transition to a Cashless Society

As the prevalence of cashless transactions continues to rise, concerns about the impact on seniors and their ability to access essential services have come to the forefront

While businesses have the right to specify their preferred payment methods, it is essential that consumers are informed of these terms and conditions before making a purchase. However, it is equally important for businesses to consider the needs of all customers, including those who prefer or rely on cash for their transactions.

Looking ahead, the transition to a cashless society may continue to accelerate, with some experts predicting its completion by the end of the decade. However, this does not mean that cash will become obsolete entirely. Instead, it is essential to strike a balance between digital and cash payments, ensuring that all individuals have access to the payment methods that best suit their needs.

In supporting seniors during this transition, it is crucial for Australians to “pay it forward” by using cash where possible, thereby sending a message to government, banks, and businesses that cash remains a vital form of payment. Additionally, businesses should prioritize customer service and support initiatives aimed at increasing digital literacy among older Australians, such as the Be Connected Program.

By working together to address the challenges posed by the transition to a cashless society, we can ensure that all Australians, including seniors, have access to the payment methods and support services they need to navigate an increasingly digital world.

For more information and support, visit the Be Connected Program website.

 

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