As a volunteer with groups including the SES, CFA and Scouts, Gisborne’s Rex Pilgrim says there’s always something to keep him busy.

He talks with Matt Crossman.


What’s your tie to the area? How long have you lived here?

I moved to Gisborne in May 2005. I was living in Melbourne, and had moved there in 2000, having moved from Launceston in Tasmania due to work.

I moved to Gisborne due to a romantic interest, however that connection didn’t last.

During those early days in Gisborne, I joined the CFA, and came to love the town, especially since I was a country boy at heart – and Melbourne city life wasn’t all that agreeable.


How has the town changed?

It has more shops … the amenities mean that I don’t have to go far to find what I need.

For me, the biggest change is the friendships I have made here.


How did you become involved in the SES?

In 2008, the Gisborne SES was really short of road crash rescue (RCR) officers and asked the CFA for help to fill the gap.

I took on the role and realised that there was more to SES than RCR, and expanded my interests.

That lead to me becoming the unit personnel protective clothing officer.


What do you consider among the unit’s/your greatest achievements?

The unit’s greatest achievement is in saving lives. My greatest achievement is to be able to contribute to this as part of the team.


What do you enjoy most about your involvement?

I think the camaraderie and friendship within the unit is the most enjoyable thing. But that doesn’t cover it all.

While not fun, the rescue of people from crashed cars gives great satisfaction, and being able to help people on a stormy night when they have water running into the house through a hole in the roof also is very satisfying.


Do you think some people take the SES work for granted?

Yes, a lot of people think that we are just a free workforce, but VicSES is an emergency service with considerable community responsibility.

This ranges from education talks at schools, to search and rescue and road rescue.


What do you like to do in your spare time?

Spare time? Outside of SES and being a CFA firefighter, I am a Scout leader with 1st Gisborne Scout Group.

I’m also an affiliate member of the Gisborne-Macedon Ranges RSL.


What local cafes or restaurants do you like to go to?

Since the SES and CFA keep me really busy, and McDonalds is next door, I like to go there.

The noodle shop is good for a tasty quick meal.

For a nice, sit-down meal La Cibo Cafe is lovely.