Waimakariri deputy mayor and Oxford community stalwart, Kevin Felstead, was awarded his gold star for 25 years service as a member of the Oxford Volunteer Fire Brigade at a ceremony at the Fire Station on Friday, November 4.

The evening included presentations from the United Fire Brigades Association, the New Zealand Fire Service, the Canterbury Fire Brigades Association, the Canterbury Gold Star Association, the mayor of the Waimakariri District Council and the Oxford Brigade. Kevin’s wife, Maree, and the Felstead family were also thanked for their on-going support and understanding when Kevin was called away at all hours.

Kevin joined the fire brigade in 1987, a year or two after moving to Oxford, and was a regular at musters and incident call outs until he resigned in 2009. In 2013 he re-joined the brigade in operational support and became the eighth member of the Oxford Volunteer Fire Brigade to earn his gold star.

In his acceptance speech Kevin spoke of some of the fond and outstanding memories of his times at the station. The saddest callout was for a young boy from Coopers Creek who died after being caught under a felled tree. The nor’westers heralded Kevin’s strangest call out, to keep an elephant cool at the local A&P grounds.

Oxford’s famous winds were also behind one of the scariest nights when Kevin and another brigade member were hit by flying debris (either wood or metal sheeting depending on who is retelling the tale) on a call out. Both emerged largely unscathed but the talk around Oxford had one in hospital and the other in the morgue.

One other occasion that stood out for Kevin was when he was competing in a fire brigade golfing tournament in Twizel. Everyone’s pagers went off and Kevin suddenly realised that the fire was at his address! Apparently it was Kevin’s shout the next time the brigade got together.

This article was published in The Oxford Observer.