Words will never be enough to describe the commitment John O'Keeffe has given to the State Emergency Service (SES).
A former division commander and unit volunteer, John was recently awarded a long service award and clasp for his 57 year commitment to the organisation.
SES life members, family and friends recently gathered at the SES headquarters in Arkwright Crescent, Taree to celebrate the achievement.
Humbled by the occasion, John said his SES career was solely based on helping the community.
"Overall I can't say anymore than thank you for the recognition," John said.
"Recognition is something you never look for, you don't do it for that. If you do you're better off at home and not doing it."
Since he first joined in 1963, John has watched the organisation evolve through the development of safety techniques and management. He is still part of the Taree capability unit today.
"Time's gone fast, all the people here are part of the family," John said.
"In the SES here, we never lost a life or had a serious injury.
"There's lots of discipline and obedience through the units with everyone looking after each other."
SES Mid North Coast region controller Tony Day said the 57 year milestone is rare in the NSW SES.
"The SES has been your life and the life of your family," Tony said.
"You have contributed over the years to the NSW SES and the communities of the Mid North Coast and the many thing you've done over the years are a testament to your membership.
"I can't diminish the contribution that you've made and the people you've supported over many years."
Throughout his career, John was never quiet about issues he deemed important. If there was a SES commissioner in town, you'd bet John would be champing at the bit to have a chat.
"He always had his say, always able to articulate his view about all things SES and what should and shouldn't happen," Tony smiled.
He mentioned John's work during hectic weather events in 2011 and 2013 where he spent weeks in the Taree office helping out and contributing to the operation where he could.
North coast zone commander Steve Patterson said the commitment of service flows through the O'Keeffe family.
"I'm blown away by that, that just shows what the SES is all about which is people turning up, contributing to their communities and not expecting anything for it," Steve said.
"So often when I meet longer serving members, I think about the legacy of the service which is incredible.
"It's an amazing contribution you have given us and we're very lucky we've had you."
MidCoast Council mayor David West has know John for nearly 30 years. He highlighted the work long standing SES volunteers, like John, do to keep the community safe.
"This country we live in can't exist without volunteers," David said.
"When someone says 'don't go near that tree it'll fall and kill you', you get a chainsaw and go and cut the thing down.
"You have no idea how much I respect you and everything you stand for, in particular the fact you put your hand up and say 'Mr Commissioner, I've got some things to say'."
John's brother Michael said the SES has played a huge part in his life.
"If we look at John's service here it's part of what he has done in his life," Michael said.
"We're extremely proud of John for what has done in his life and on behalf of the family I thank the SES for this celebration and the contribution you've been able to gain from John's service."
Terry O'Keeffe, who has also spent time with the SES, was inspired by his dad to help the community.
"Growing up with mum and dad, we certainly learnt the sense of community and giving back to the community," Terry said.
"SES is a lot of personal time and cost to do all the training."