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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 160

Mr BALDWIN (11:58 AM) —I rise in this House today with a very sad heart to pay tribute to a long-time Coomba resident, Wal Fluke, who passed away last week. My dear friend Wal was a lifetime member of the Coomba Park Rural Fire Service. He was recognised for regularly putting his life on the line to save others and their communities. Walter John Fluke was born in Sydney and was the seventh of eight children. He spent most of his career in the footwear industry and progressed into retail, manufacturing, sales and supplies. Wal served our nation during the war as a part of the Australian Imperial Force. Wal Fluke married Dorothy in 1945 and they moved from Sydney to Coomba Park in 1986. They loved Coomba Park, having holidayed there since 1972.

Australia’s heroes come in many forms, and Wal was one of those people. He joined the Rural Fire Service in 1988 and, during his time there, went from rookie to deputy captain, then to senior deputy captain and, finally, he was appointed captain. He was made a life member in 1997. Wal Fluke had many responsibilities, including as treasurer of the Rural Fire Service. This was all when Wal was supposed to have retired! Wal Fluke had many achievements to boast about during his time in the Rural Fire Service. He also extended his services to the Great Lakes Bush Fire Liaison Committee to Council. When he was captain, his brigade raised $17,000 to put towards a new two-bay shed as an extension to the fire station accommodation, and construction of that shed was only recently completed.

Wal Fluke was certainly an active member of the community. He was a member of the local progress association. In 1997, he helped set up the Coomba Ex-Services Association, and because of this association the community now has a memorial which can be used to hold services like those held on Anzac Day. Wal Fluke also lent a helping hand to the disabled. He joined the Great Lakes 355 committee to help disabled people have access to things in the community like disabled toilets and wider access doors and ramps. Wal was associated with the organisation Aid Retarded Persons New South Wales from 1950 onwards, and was made a life member in 197l .

Wal Fluke was a dedicated Christian, who sang in the choir at his church. He was a deacon of the South Granville Baptist Church for 25 years. When he moved to Coomba he was a deacon at the Forster Baptist Church. In 2000, Wal Fluke was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. He received the Medal of the Order of Australia for his service to the community, including service to the church, sporting and firefighting organisations and to helping people with a disability.

My condolences go to Wal’s wife Dorothy. Wal and Dorothy were married for 62 years and I was honoured to have been asked to help them celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in their home. They have four children: John, Kaye, Carolyn and Christine. Wal’s funeral was held this week at the Baptist Church in Forster, with a service which continued at the RSL. Around 100 people turned out to pay their respects to a man who gave so much to everyone. Members of the RSL who were there came down one by one and placed a poppy on his coffin. The emotion swept across the room as The Last Post was played in Wal Fluke’s honour. Wal’s daughter Carolyn spoke at the funeral on behalf of her mother and family of her father being a ‘man on the go, who was interested in everything and always involved in church and community’. Carolyn spoke on behalf of his grandchildren, who said, ‘Grandpa was a unique individual for his grandchildren, as evidenced in many photos and home videos.’ Carolyn read out a message from her mother Dorothy, who described Wal as a ‘very adventurous and lively child who his mother often said was responsible for most of her grey hairs by his daring exploits’. The Great Lakes Mayor John Chadban also spoke at the funeral and he spoke very highly of Wal’s achievements and dedication to the Great Lakes community. The eulogy was read by Clive Manners from Coomba Park Rural Fire Brigade, who described Wal as a ‘gentleman who will be sadly missed’. My friend Wal Fluke will be sadly missed. He was an outstanding member of the community and, as his local member, it was a pleasure to know him. Wal’s legacy will long live on.