John McVeigh has been recognised as an SES life member.
John McVeigh has been recognised as an SES life member.

Always prepared: recognition for popular SES volunteer

JOINING to play his part after the 1974 floods, 'Uncle John' has been at the heart of SES operations in Ipswich ever since.

John McVeigh, 80, served as deputy controller of the Ipswich City State Emergency Service Unit for 29 years and took on the role of its first group leader.

He has been recognised for his many years of dedicated service after being included in the first batch of Queensland volunteers named as life members of the service.

After seeing a write-up in the paper, Mr McVeigh attended his first meeting and has remained there ever since.

The retiree, now unofficially the unit's training officer, preached the importance of being properly prepared to face any situation.

"I've been lucky," he said.

"I've always been fairly cautious.

"There are quite a number of other people here, we've walked shoulder to shoulder, and they didn't get that recognition. We've marched down that same track.

"I think at the end of the day it's probably mateship really (that has kept him going).

"There's the same people who joined when I joined. We do whatever we're called to do. It's really mateship that gets people to stay."

Having grown up on a dairy farm, Mr McVeigh worked in the Department of Primary Industries before a 20-year stint on the University of Queensland's farms facilities at Pinjarra Hills.

Now retired, he is a popular figure at the unit's headquarters.

"(Uncle John) might be a term of affection, I don't know," he laughed.

"That's what they call me, particularly the country groups.

"It's just that I've been around for a long time.

"I had the skills to work in the office or in the field. There was always a job or something to do.

"What do you do when you're a retiree? I might as well come in here."