A group of Queensland’s “summer heroes”, who protected lives and property in the recent devastating flood emergency following tropical cyclone Oswald, were today welcomed onboard Queen Mary 2 in Brisbane as guests of Cunard.
The Queensland State Emergency Service (SES) volunteers (each with their partner or travelling companion) are sailing to Sydney on Queen Mary 2 along with fellow “summer heroes” – volunteer firefighters from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.
The volunteers were at the forefront of this summer’s natural disasters and will have pride of place on the liner when she makes a spectacular entry into Sydney Harbour on Thursday.
The eight members of the Queensland SES were welcomed onboard by Cunard President and Managing Director Peter Shanks and Ann Sherry, CEO of Carnival Australia, which represents Cunard in Australia.
Mr Shanks said Queen Mary 2’s ‘Salute to the Summer Heroes’ would allow the community to acknowledge the SES volunteers as well as the overall contribution of volunteer organisations.
“Queen Mary 2 makes a huge impact wherever she goes and we are delighted she can play a part in marking the service and sacrifice of volunteers who routinely defend and protect their communities,” Mr Shanks said.
“It is humbling to know that emergency services volunteers risk everything to protect their communities in the most extreme conditions and they do it willingly year after year and sometimes at great personal cost.”
Among the group of more than 35 volunteers are:
- The Queensland SES volunteers who protected communities in the flood and extreme weather emergency that stretched from the far north of Queensland to Brisbane
- NSW Rural Fire Service personnel who fought massive fires across the state including a huge blaze in the Coonabarabran area which destroyed properties and threatened Siding Spring Observatory
- Firefighters from the Tasmania Fire Service who spent the summer of natural disasters fighting fires, including a catastrophic blaze in the east that destroyed homes and the Dunalley Primary School
- Victoria Country Fire Authority volunteers who have also had a busy summer fighting fires in various parts of the state.
Ms Sherry said Australia’s leading cruise operator was pleased to help the community say thank you to the thousands of emergency services volunteers throughout Australia.
“The volunteers and family members invited to sail onboard Queen Mary 2 are representative of the summer heroes to be found in communities the length and breadth of the country,” Ms Sherry said.
“As a nation we are in awe of these people who offer their communities unparalleled commitment when nature is at its most dangerous to lives and property.”
A special auction will be conducted onboard Queen Mary 2 with proceeds to go to the Australian Red Cross 2013 natural disaster appeals.