AN RFS volunteer who has dedicated his life to serving the Rockley community has been awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal.
Geoff Ryan received the award as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours List.
He said he was "nearly beyond words" when he heard he had received the award.
"Like everyone says, you're not in it for the medals," he said.
"But when this, something so highly valued, comes through, you feel proud. It's a mixed feeling. It makes you feel very humbled."
Mr Ryan was just 16 when he first volunteered as a firefighter. Coming off a property, he said "that's what you do".
"I was involved in the fire brigade all the time," he said.
When he moved into the village, he maintained his role, saying it was the best way he could continue to help his community.
"It's the community I love," he said.
Mr Ryan said he enjoyed the comradeship of the role, and has built up friendships all over the state.
"It's the job satisfaction. When you go out to help a fellow Australian, it gives you a good feeling," he said.
Mr Ryan joined the NSW Rural Fire Service at the Rockley Brigade in 1968 and has remained an active member for over 53 years. He was elected Group Captain in 2004, a role he still holds today.
He has been the driving force for many years to keep the local Arkell, Lagoon, Trunkey and Rockley brigades active by overseeing each brigade's membership and ensuring that members' skills and qualifications remain up to date.
He has also been involved in the mentoring of Chifley's deputy group/group officers and has assisted at group leader courses held in the Chifley district.
Mr Ryan has also been a representative on the Chifley Senior Management Team for many years and is a representative member on a number of committees, including the Zone Liaison Committee and the local Bushfire Management Committee.
He has attended numerous local incidents during his career and several S44 fires, including the State Mine Fire in 2013 and, more recently, the Gospers Mountain Fire in 2019-2020.
In the award nomination, one of Mr Ryan's greatest achievements in his career is listed as contributing as one of the founding members of Division 8 of the NSW RFS Association (RFSA).
He continues to serve in the role of chairman, a role he has held for several years.
He is also a State Council representative and long-serving delegate on the RFSA Consultative Committee.
Mr Ryan was described as an outstanding member of the RNSW RFS and the RFSA.
It's been a big year for Mr Ryan: he has also been named as a life member of the RFS Association.