Young RFS volunteer overcomes challenging steps
YOUNG Christopher Hardey hasn’t let a few of life’s setbacks stop him being an active and valued community member in his role with the Lennox Head Rural Fire Service.
Mr Hardey, 20, was born with a debilitating and progressive neurological disorder called Spastic Paraplegia that weakens his legs.
He was also diagnosed with autism.
At 18 and unsure which direction to take after his physical disability prevented him having a career with the army, Mr Hardey decided to volunteer at his local RFS.
With aspirations to become an RFS crew leader, he said the most memorable experience in his career so far was being involved in fighting the recent Wardell and New Italy bushfires.
“It was interesting to say the least,” Mr Hardey said.
“There was a couple of times the wind changed – it was scary in a way – you are on the frontline.
“But it was really humbling to help to protect people and their homes. It was quite a hectic fire season.”
As the youngest in the crew, Mr Hardey was nominated to receive a donation cheque of $500 to the Lennox Head fire brigade from the North Coast Veterans at the Cherry St Bowling Club on Thursday.
“We can spend that money on new radios and equipment for the truck,” he said.
“I’d like to thank the vets for the donation, it really helps us out, the equipment is quite important obviously.”
He urged younger people interested in giving back to the community to please “give the RFS a go”.
“You learn leadership skills, confidence skills, you develop more motivation and learn how to work in a team,” he said.
“You can train become a volunteer over two weekends over the course of a couple of months ... it’s manageable and the rewards are huge.”