TRIBUTE: Russell Ladlay, who is celebrating 40 years with the SES, and Beth Suhr, who has been with the SES for 31 years.
TRIBUTE: Russell Ladlay, who is celebrating 40 years with the SES, and Beth Suhr, who has been with the SES for 31 years. David Nielsen

SES 'living legends' honoured for four decades of service

RUSSELL Ladlay and Ross Elliott's service to Queenslanders in need goes back further than the SES itself.

The pair's four-decade commitment to volunteering began in the lead-up to the 1974 floods and hasn't wavered since.

From what was then known as the the Civic Defence Unit, Mr Ladlay and Mr Elliott were among the first to sign up for the SES when it was first established in 1975.

They were joined by Marburg group leader Beth Suhr in 1984, and together they've contributed to building the Ipswich region SES into what it is today.

The trio was rewarded for its long service recently with Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard presenting them with Meritorious Service Medal Clasps.

Mr Ladlay said the '74 flood still stuck in his mind as the most important mission he'd been part of.

"We've had quite a few big jobs over the years - missing people, storms and floods," he said.

"The '74 food was the big one, because we'd only just started with Civil Defence Unit before Christmas in 1973. We were supposed to have a break and come back after Australia Day, but then the flood happened."

For Mr Elliott, he still treasures the day that he was part of the group of SES volunteers that returned a missing toddler to his mother.

"The look on his mother's face when we gave him back is something I will never forget," he said.

Having originally joined the SES as an excuse to stop fielding after-hours calls to the Marburg police station, were her husband was sergeant at the time, Beth Suhr quickly came to realise that the volunteering role was her calling.

A huge hailstorm ripped through south-east Queensland shortly after Mrs Suhr joined the SES, tearing a path through Harrisville and Kedron.

"It ripped roofs off and smashed windows. Trees were brought down everywhere," Mrs Suhr said.

"We worked until 3am at Harrisville and went straight to Kedron to help there. These days they wouldn't let you do that."

Aside from the the 2010-2011 floods, the Charleville floods in 1990 were another big moment in the volunteering careers of the Ipswich trio.

More recently, the successful search for missing two-year-old Dixie Hornbuckle at Pine Mountain was a highlight.

"It's the companionship of the SES that keeps you coming back - we're almost like a bunch of old married couples," Mr Ladlay joked.

"You are a community of your own. Because we're all so close, we work well together when we go out on a job."

Ms Howard labelled Mr Ladlay, Mr Elliott and Mrs Suhr as "living legends" before presenting their medals.

"There are none more deserving of accolades and praise. Russell and Ross are receiving their honour for 40 years of volunteer service to the SES and Beth for 30 years of service. That's 110 years of volunteer service to their community between them," Ms Howard said.

 



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