SES couple side-by-side in emergencies and on awards podium
Bright orange has been the colour of choice for dedicated SES volunteers Mark and Sue Connors for almost 30 years.
The pair have spent the decades helping the Whitsundays in times of strife and on Australia Day, the region had a chance to recognise them for their efforts.
Mark and Sue Connors were named Citizens of the Year for Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Proserpine and surrounds, with Mr Connors saying it was only fitting the pair shared the accolade.
"It's lovely to get an award as a team because that's what we've been doing for 30 years," he said.
Mr Connors joined the SES first but when he began spending a lot of time with the group and Mrs Connors was not seeing him all that much, she decided to join too.
Now Mr Connors has racked up more than 20 years as the SES local controller, is a trainer with the central region training team and a team leader for local, state and national SES competitions.
On top of that, he's also a judge in the competitions.
Mrs Connors has been the Proserpine group leader for about 13 years and has also spent almost two decades as the state peer support officer, helping take care of members' psychological health.
Together, they are integral in setting up disaster centres and respond to emergencies both in the Whitsundays and around Queensland.
The pair said Cyclone Debbie, which hit in 2017, was an emergency that stood out from the rest.
While the natural disaster caused destruction around the Whitsundays, some of which is still on the road to repair, the couple could see a positive.
"After everything we went to, to help other people, they came to help us," Mrs Connors said.
Mr Connors said the response to the disaster was a team effort and while they were the ones who were recognised with an award, they shone the spotlight firmly on those they share the uniform with.
"It's good to be part of a community effort like that," he said.
"We couldn't do it without all the boys and girls around us.
"After Cyclone Debbie everyone came together and raised money for us.
"This town gives rather than takes."
The humble Proserpine couple is proud to give back to the community, especially as the community has also helped support them over the years.
"While we were doing SES, people were out coaching our kids at sport," Mr Connors said.
"This community has brought our children up and it's a wonderful place to live."
Mrs Connors agreed.
"The town is a positive town and when someone is down, they bring them up," she said.
Mark and Sue Connors were recognised at an Australia Day Awards Ceremony alongside other hardworking residents of Airlie Beach, Cannonvale, Proserpine and surrounds.
Here's a rundown of all the award winners:
- Citizen of the Year: Mark and Sue Connors
- Young Citizen of the Year: Aiden Payet
- Senior Citizen of the Year: Colleen Byrnes
- Senior Sportsperson Award: Christopher Murphy
- Junior Sportsperson Award: Kasey Hogan
- Sports Administrator Award: Craig and Hanny Spence
- Senior Cultural Award: Whitsundays Arts Festival
- Junior Cultural Award: Crystal Glisson
- Community Event of the Year: Cyclone Ada Memorial
- Wally Hinschen Volunteer of the Year Award: Ron Petterson
For a list of all the winners from around the Whitsundays, click here.