AWARD TTLE: Beth Suhrs 33 year commitment to the SES has been recognised through the Australian Honours system.
AWARD TTLE: Beth Suhrs 33 year commitment to the SES has been recognised through the Australian Honours system. David Nielsen

OUR IPSWICH, OUR PEOPLE: Beth built for SES dedication

LOOKING back on more than 30 years with the Marburg SES, Beth Suhr says becoming a woman group leader was one of her proudest achievements.

"It's different these days, but back then becoming a female group leader in a male-dominated area was very special to me," Beth said.

"I probably did receive a bit of resistance but proved myself in the end and always gave back as good as I got."

The Sadliers Crossing resident spent her childhood in the small South Burnett town of Nanango until her family moved to the coastal suburb of Redcliffe when she was 12 years of age.

At 17, she followed in her mother's footsteps and became a nurse, completing her four-year training at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

There she met her husband Ronald, a policeman who was on rotation guarding one of the patients.

Ipswich region SES members (from left) Ross Elliott, Russ Ladlay, Andy Millar, Beth Suhr and Arie van den Ende served in the area for more than 30 years.
Ipswich region SES members (from left) Ross Elliott, Russ Ladlay, Andy Millar, Beth Suhr and Arie van den Ende served in the area for more than 30 years. Rob Williams

Over a few weeks the "very good looking" young man eventually worked up the courage to call Beth at the nurse's quarters to ask her out on a date.

The pair married in 1963 and Beth followed her new husband out to his posting in Hughenden.

"We arrived at 3am on the train and I remember getting to the house where I got a bit cranky with the state of the place," Beth joked.

"Getting out there was definitely a shock to the system."

Eventually though Beth says she warmed to the small town, despite the scorching hot summers.

Beth and Ronald welcomed their first child in 1964 and moved to Sandgate in 1965.

From there they did a two-year stint in Toowoomba, another five years in Hughenden before transferring to Yeppoon and back to Brisbane, adding two more children along the way.

And before taking up his final post as sergeant of the Marburg Police Station in 1981, the now family of five spent two years in Charleville.

Having moved around so much as a "copper's wife" the SES gave Beth a sense of belonging.

"I initially got involved with the Marburg SES as they would often help the police with different situations and I used to help out on the phones at the police station," Beth said.

Heading along to training on a Monday night not only meant she "got out of having to answer phones at the police station", but she also picked up a raft of new skills.

"Even though I was trained as a nurse I received more modern first aid training, and I learnt how to abseil and tie knots," she said.

"Before then I was just a housewife and a mother.

"I loved every bit of it."

 

End of the road for SES veteran

BETH Suhr was made redundant from her position as the administration officer at the Ipswich SES after 20 years in June this year and retired from her position as Marburg SES group leader in August.

This year was a big year for Beth, who also received the Rotary SES Regional Person of the year award and the Emergency Services Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

"SES is very important to the community in times of floods or storms and we need every volunteer we can get," she said. "I would encourage anyone who might be thinking about volunteering to pick up the phone and get involved today."

 

Ipswich SES workers Beth Suhr and Arie van den Ende at the Ipswich State Emergency Service depot.
Ipswich SES workers Beth Suhr and Arie van den Ende at the Ipswich State Emergency Service depot. Sarah Harvey

 

'We hauled stretcher up range'

THERE are two situations that stand out in Beth's mind when asked about challenging days in the orange uniform.

"We had a car that went over the side of the Marburg range, and we had to haul the stretcher back up. It was one of the last times we did that sort of thing as the firies took over about then," she said.

"And one day a teenage boy rode his bike out onto the highway in front of oncoming trucks. There were some tough days, but the SES has a great peer support system."

Upon Ronald's retirement from the police force in 1987 he and Beth moved back to Ipswich.

In between natural disasters and accidents, Beth ran the Ipswich SES cadets for 13 years.

"It was a lot of work but seeing those kids come up the ranks was a great thing," she said.



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