Fire­fighter farewelled in street pa­rade

Se­nior sta­tion of­fi­cer ‘Batesy’ passes away af­ter an ac­ci­dent at home

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

Wanaka Vol­un­teer Fire Brigade se­nior sta­tion of­fi­cer War­ren ‘‘Batesy’’ Bates was farewelled by fam­ily, friends and col­leagues last Thurs­day af­ter­noon with a poignant fu­neral pa­rade down Ard­more St.

His widow, Justine, and sons Nick, 14, and Liam, 10, were ear­lier pre­sented with the brigade’s life membership dur­ing a crowded fu­neral ser­vice at­tended by hun­dreds of friends and col­leagues.

Wanaka’s chief fire of­fi­cer Bruno Gal­loway said he had been look­ing for­ward to pre­sent­ing the gold star 25-year ser­vice award to the 45-year-old stone ma­son in Au­gust.

Bates died af­ter an ac­ci­dent at his home last week­end. He was be­ing trans­ferred by am­bu­lance from Dun­stan Hos­pi­tal to Dunedin Hos­pi­tal when he passed away on Satur­day.

His death was sud­den and un­ex­pected and Gal­loway said Bates’ char­ac­ter, quick wit, sense of hu­mour and rab­bit pat­ties would be sadly missed by his col­leagues.

Bates had a 100 per cent at­ten­dance record this year and had won the at­ten­dance award with 100 per cent con­tri­bu­tions in other years.

"He was pas­sion­ate and ded­i­cated to the fire brigade. It was a big part of his life and we thank Justine and the boys for al­low­ing him to give so much time to the com­mu­nity,’’ Gal­loway said.

Wanaka JP and brigade sec­re­tary Ralph Fe­gan ac­knowl­edged the ‘‘sea of blue’’ fire­fight­ers from around the dis­trict.

Bates had "gone in a heart beat’’, which "com­pletely knocked the bloody socks off ev­ery­one’’ leav­ing many feel­ing like "stunned mul­lets’’, Fe­gan said.

Re­al­ity only started to sink in when Fe­gan and three com­pan­ions, strug­gling to find a key to ac­cess the flag post out­side the fire sta­tion on Sun­day, went down to the Wanaka ceme­tery and "pinched’’ the RSA flag post to run a flag at half mast.

Af­ter that poignant mo­ment, his first thought was ‘‘bug­ger, no more rab­bit pat­ties at fire brigade func­tions. They were leg­endary and there would be scraps over them’’, Fe­gan re­called.

Nick and Liam Bates have pledged to stand in for their dad and pro­vide pat­ties at a fu­ture brigade func­tion.

The trib­utes were many. Few mo­ments in Batesy’s life were wasted and his ac­tiv­i­ties with his wife and chil­dren were the high­lights.

Bates went to Wanaka Area School and had worked as a stone ma­son and block­layer since he was a teenager.

He joined the fire brigade in Au­gust 1991 and moved grad­u­ally through the ranks to be ap­pointed se­nior sta­tion of­fi­cer in 2009.

He was re­spon­si­ble for updating the brigade’s SMS data records and at­tended al­most ev­ery fire call and muster, ex­cept on his wed­ding day, when his mother Glenys had to re­strain him.

Bates was a keen hunter and – ex­clud­ing the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee – was the first per­son to be­come a mem­ber of the Up­per Clutha Deer­stalk­ers Club.

Bates helped build the club’s shoot­ing range and was a gen­er­ous provider of wild food for events, pres­i­dent Mal­colm Mitchell said.

"He was a ma­jor part of our club. Our first mem­ber and first to pass away,’’ Mitchell said.



Missed: Mourn­ers form a guard of hon­our at the fu­neral of Wanaka fire­fighter War­ren Bates.

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