Not many people find themselves on the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s List, but Little River’s John Takac did.
Mr Takac has dedicated almost 40 years of volunteer service to Life Saving Victoria and was awarded an Emergency Services Medal in recognition of his commitment.
“It’s not something anyone sets out to do. It’s surprising,“ Mr Takac said.
“It probably hasn’t really hit me at this point, I haven’t really thought too much about it.
“Some of the people that have gotten it in the past are people I look up to…it’s very humbling to be associated with those sorts of people,“ he said.
Mr Takac previously worked for the Ford Motor Company, but made a career change about 12 years ago.
“With the automotive manufacturing industry disappearing out of Australia, I took the opportunity to get into a job that I love,“ he said.
“I was in my forties when I got a job as a firefighter and that allowed me then in some of my spare time as a firefighter to do some paid work for Life Saving Victoria, so then not only was I a volunteer.“
Mr Takac said one of the things he’s always tried to do is “encourage others“ and remembers an impactful moment he saw the effects of his mentoring.
“I was sitting next to the patrol shelter, I saw some people in trouble in the water, grabbed a tube, rushed past the people that were standing at the waters and said ‘rescue, need help?’,“ he said.
Mr Takac swam out to help the people in trouble, a father and three teenagers.
“As I got there, I realised I was in real strife…I was struggling, as a group we were all struggling to stay above…and I was just hoping the rest of the patrol, the people that I had trained over the last three or four years were doing all the right things,“ he said.
“It was such a welcome relief, but also distinct pride to turn around and see someone come out on a board…I see other patrol members pulling the rescue boat in to the water..
“Here are all these people just doing all the right things, and I had a part in training them…This was their first major rescue.“ he said.
Mr Takac said it’s “fantastic“ to be involved in an organisation that’s not “self centered“.
“It’s there to try and help everyone else and you see the results, it’s great to be part of something that works hard,“ he said.