Bunbury vollie firey named Citizen of the Year

Headshot of Shannon Verhagen
Shannon VerhagenBunbury Herald
Bunbury Volunteer Bushfire Brigade captain Terri Kowal was named the City of Bunbury's Citizen of the Year for 2019.
Camera IconBunbury Volunteer Bushfire Brigade captain Terri Kowal was named the City of Bunbury's Citizen of the Year for 2019. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

From battling blazes on the frontline to training future generations, Bunbury Volunteer Bushfire Brigade Captain Terri Kowal has dedicated her life to keeping her community safe.

Fighting fires for 26 years — and captain for 17 — the work she has done has been no small feat and her efforts were recognised on Sunday when she was named the City of Bunbury’s Citizen of the Year.

It was an accolade the mother of three, who last year travelled to NSW to battle bushfires, was not expecting.

“I was really quite shocked to start with,” she said.

“When the letter came in the mail it was very much a surprise and totally unexpected.

“But I feel very humbled by the whole thing.”

Capt. Kowal, pictured, first joined the brigade in 1994, where she had a few family friends.

“The captain at the time asked if I’d like to join so I thought, ‘why not?’” she said.

“I knew his wife and there were ladies in the brigade at the time who were quite inspirational to me so I joined up and haven’t looked back since.”

She became captain in 2003, and for the past two decades has been co-ordinating a team of about 40 volunteers and played a major role in training new members.

“I think I’ve had a motivational role or been a role model for other females and I think it’s great (that I can) show women that they can become involved in this industry and hold their own,” Capt. Kowal said.

“The brigade has given me so much, learning all these skills. I would never have imagined it would have taken me to where I am today.”

She also took on the role of cadet co-ordinator last year, showing 18 cadets the ropes, taking them to a WA camp and taking six to Sydney for the Australian Cadet Championships.

“Just watching them grow and building their self-confidence … it’s really rewarding,” Capt. Kowal said.

Newton Moore student Mikisa Knuckey was named Young Citizen of the Year and the Runners Club’s Australia Day Fun Run won Community Group/Event of the Year.

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