Pete Thomson has received the rare life member award after serving in the State Emergency Service (SES) for more than half his life.

Commissioner Carlene York APM had travelled for the ceremony last Thursday at the Gunnedah SES unit.

Surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren along with SES members past and present, the commissioner presented Pete with the 35-Year Long Service and Lifetime Member award including the second clasp of the national medal.

The award is a notable achievement for SES members and requires years of service going above and beyond what is expected to be nominated.

Matt Kirby assisted the Gunnedah unit in summarising Pete’s years of service for the nomination which was then assessed and approved by the commissioner.

His time in the SES involved out of area assistance including the Sydney hailstorms and Cyclone Yasi along with several regional major floods.

He has seen almost every type of natural disaster in more than 35 years of service.

SES members past and present: Back, Graham Murrell, Steve King, commander Phill Miegel, Phil Woolaston, Matt Kirby, Pete Thomson, Commissioner Carlene York APM, deputy commander Jason Williams, principal adviser facilities Katrina Miegel, Ron Moran and Kim Rixon. Front, Graeme Geyer and Carissa Ryan.

His passion for the rescue work involved more than what was expected and he has become an integral part of the SES. His involvement includes raising funds for a new vehicle and playing an instrumental role in reinstating the Boggabri SES unit.

He received a certificate of appreciation from the commissioner in 2018 for his outstanding effort.

His time in the service was one of a respected mentor and a member who has held various roles in management and operation.

His infectious energy was a convincing quality for many to join the rescue team.

“Most of us joined under him and he trained us up and it was fun. I had so much fun my mum joined,” principal advisor facilities Katrina Miegel said.

“He promoted the fun side of rescue.”

Katrina mentioned his ability to make people feel welcome when joining the service, regardless of gender.

“He has promoted an equal balance of male and female within the unit for future generations,” she said.

Commissioner Carlene York APM NSW SES, Lacey, Greg, Chris, Pete, Vicki, Ollie, Alfie, Sheri and Bec Thomson.

Pete’s SES story began when his son was choking, resulting in a wakeup call for Pete.

He enrolled in a first aid course and it was Steve King who convinced Pete to join the rescue unit.

With the ‘all in’ personality that he is known for, it was no surprise he was in it for life.

The unit feels like family for many members and for a family man like Pete, the SES was a part of his home life.

The SES often hosted competitions and the Thomson family were in the cheer squad for Pete.

Vicki Thomson, Pete’s wife, reminisced about how their children’s lives were intertwined with the SES.

“For a couple of [the competitions] our kids actually dressed up in little orange overalls, so they were kind of part of it as well,” she said.

“He really has been there for everything for us and for his kids and that’s why it is really special.

“[Our children] haven’t known life without the SES … so it is special for them as well.

“That has been [Pete’s] thing, SES and family. That has been his life.”

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