“I was starting to wonder if I was the bloke who was meant to be sitting here, when I heard all the nice things you had to say about me.”
That was recently retired St John ambulance officer Graham Harvey, speaking to a crowd of friends, colleagues and family at a farewell ceremony at the Balclutha station on Monday.
Mr Harvey had provided 50 years of service to the organisation.
“There aren’t many people still involved in the service from when I started,” he said.
Balclutha St John station manager Stuart Holgate hosted the ceremony, and thanked Mr Harvey for “taking me under his wing”.
“Apart from my father, there are two other male role models I can point to in my life. You’re one of them . You should be very, very proud of what you’ve achieved.”
Mr Harvey began his career in Rotorua, before making the move to become station officer in Balclutha in January 1991.
From here, he had a host of different titles, such as senior station officer, district operations manager, team manager, and stepping down to the role of ambulance officer in June 2011.
Mr Holgate spoke fondly of working with Mr Harvey, and said, “He never said a swear word or lost his temper once, despite given cause to do so quite often.”
Senior Sergeant Stan Leishman, of Balclutha, was on hand to thank Mr Harvey “for all your interactions with the police”.
Snr Sgt Leishman read a letter from ex-senior sergeant Alistair Dickie, who said he also valued the relationship.
“The mid-1990s in South Otago were some of the most interesting times I can remember .. It makes a hell of a difference when you know your emergency services crews are there to make things run smoothly.”
Mr Harvey said “things have changed a whole lot,” during his time with the organisation.
He predicted that in the future there would be an increasing emphasis on ambulance officers dealing with patients in their homes rather than escorting them to hospital.
He said he was “very humbled” by the recognition he had received.
“In this job we deal with people from birth until death, and from very different backgrounds. From people in the gutter, to people living in mansions . I just hope I’ve been able to make a difference.”