Noel Laurence Quinn...

It is a special privilege for me today, to be able to say a few words in honour of Noel as we say our farewells.

The privilege does not come from being the Area Chief Fire Officer, but rather from representing members of the New Zealand Fire Service in the wider Wellington Area and throughout New Zealand. With us today are many people who would dearly love the opportunity to speak, as well as those who cannot attend, but also would like to speak. I trust that I can do justice to your thoughts.

Of course, I speak only from a Fire Service perspective, which may show some bias. If this is so, then it is with the respect that this service held for Noel during his service.

Noel was a feature of the Newlands Fire Brigade from the day that he started 25 years ago, and placed an almost unbelievable energy into the activities of the unit and the community interest.

I guess that we never know exactly how a person thinks or where they derive their energy, but I am convinced that Noel gained considerable strength from this commitment to the Newlands community and in particular the Fire Service.

I say this because I have known Noel and Gill for some considerable time, but mainly Noel, in matters relating to the Newlands Volunteer Fire Brigade. In that time, his professional background brought skills to the brigade that provided a stable and influential umbrella in which the brigade operated in an efficient and dedicated manner.

On Tuesday, when I spent time with Gill and the family, I saw the book that Noel had been so carefully producing which accurately records the 30 year history of the Newlands Volunteer Fire Brigade. I am told that it was an absolute delight for Noel when he finally managed to get the computer to print the script in book form.

At a brief glance, one could not be impressed with the detail and accuracy of the events that Noel has recorded.

Yesterday, I found a part of that secret. Noel had kept a notebook which, with unbelievable accuracy, records every incident that he attended from the date of starting in the brigade. Obviously, this was most useful in developing this brigade history.

However, it gets better! as I read through the various details of the two note books, I found a second part, which contained more valuable information. Noel had also recorded every incident that he DID NOT ATTEND.

Whilst the Fire Service keeps records about records, I can say without doubt, that Noel's records are incredible.

To me, and to those who have worked with Noel, this really captures the man. A person for detail, a person who wanted it correct, and a person to whom second best would not be good enough. I am sure that the Newlands members, and indeed all of us will miss these qualities in such a dedicated person.

To a very large extent, the strength of the Newlands brigade came from Noel, and it was my pleasure on the 3rd April this year, to appoint Noel as the Chief Fire Officer for the Newlands Fire District.

He was active in all of our activities, and placed more energy into Fire Service matters, than any of us could imagine.

On a personal basis, I would like to mention my personal respect for not only Noel, but also for his wife Gill and his children. In our own way, they were all very much a part of our family and we were very much a part of theirs.

Some people here today might not appreciate the work that Noel did in Fire Service matters. Not only did he place energy into the affairs of Newlands, but also the wider affairs of other brigades in surrounding areas.

Noel had worked through the offices of the Wellington West Coast Provincial Sub Association, and served for a year as President. I am sure that if he had wanted, then he could have moved through the Executive of the United Fire Brigades Association of New Zealand.

It might sound as if his whole life was the Fire Service. Of course it was not, although as you all know it was a strong part. But there is always another side that those of us who work professionally with one other do not always see.

The family was the important part, and the Fire Service came second or perhaps third. But what this tells us is that today we farewell a man of dedication, commitment, community minded, honest and above all a family man that we can only hope to follow to reach the same self imposed goals and beliefs.

If I can conclude, it is to say a sad farewell to a friend and colleague whom we all will miss and respect for many years to come.

To Gill, and all of the family we share in your loss, but rejoice in the memories that are left behind.

Thank you for this opportunity to speak today.

Graham J Wrigley
7 September 1995

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