This week we spoke to Dirk de Ruysscher who is involved in heaps of volunteer roles including: Raglan Volunteer Fire Brigade (Senior Firefighter and Brigade Secretary); Raglan Mountainbiking Club / Te Ara Kakariki mtb trails (Trail Maintenance and management – Club Treasurer); Raglan Area School (Previous coaching basketball – currently organising mini-basketball tournament for years 5,6,7 and 8 in winter months); Karioi Classic cycling even (Co-organiser).
When did you join the fire service?
I joined the Raglan Fire Brigade in 2009.
What do you like about this part of your life?
It has been the best life choice I have ever made (besides marrying my wife Lin, lol).
I like the part of being an active contributor to our community.
It gives a very satisfied feeling that you are able to help people in need and being part of a group of really good people.
I have also learned a lot of new skills over the years.
What would you say to someone thinking of joining?
Realise that you have to make a long term commitment. Responding to emergency call outs can be very stressful and have an impact on your families. If you are able to overcome that, then you are the right person for the job.
The bike tracks must have taken a lot of your time and energy. What motivated you to offer these to the community?
People don’t always realise that, but I spend on average 4 hours a week keeping those tracks in good nick. The extra bonus is that doing this keeps me fit. The main purpose of the bike trails is to offer our community and visitors a safe environment to exercise and relax.
After living 11 years in Raglan, not much has been done by local authorities to improve or facilitate cycling on our roads.
There are still no cycle paths, so I decided that we had to do something about that ourselves.
It has been a tough process but now that the trails are here, hopefully it will be the start of a bigger cycling network in and around Raglan
You coach local school basketball (or in the past?). What benefit do you get from the coaching experience?
It has been awesome to see these young teenagers that I coached, evolving into confident young adults. Most of them have left school now, but I feel that they still show lots of respect when I bump into them from time to time. Lots of them are still playing the game, which makes me very happy.
Basketball is not just bouncing a ball, it is a lifestyle. It teaches kids to be part of a group and look after each other.
How do you manage running your business Cyclery Raglan, as well being involved in these other areas. Are you stretched? or is this the way you like to be?
It probably all comes down to time management. Luckily my 2 sons have left home, so that gives me a bit more extra time.
You can’t control the fire siren. So when that goes off, it means that I have to close the shop which obviously has an impact on my business.
But I noticed that people appreciate what I do and they often come back when I return to my work after the call out.
I guess I am a bit more stretched in the busy summer season, because we also get more incident call outs around that time of the year.
Do you have a future project in the pipeline Dirk?
Just continue with what I am doing at this stage. I have been asked to be involved at some degree with overlooking the re-establishment of the PRIME Emergency Care in Raglan. But that is just in its early stages.
What do you truly like to do in your spare time?
Visiting my two boys in Wellington and watching heaps of basketball games on tv.
What plans do you have for Christmas and the summer break?
It will be business as usual for me. Working on bikes and managing the trails.
We will have our sons over for a few days to enjoy Christmas Eve.
Hopefully I can afford some time off in late summer or early autumn.
Community Heroes is an occasional column featuring volunteers in our community.
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