Fallen fire­fighter hero was ‘just my hus­band’

Cape Argus - - NEWS - Yolisa Tswanya STAFF RE­PORTER [email protected]

HE WAS hailed a hero when he died bat­tling fires in the South Penin­sula ear­lier this year but this week­end he­li­copter res­cue pi­lot Willem Hen­drik “Bees” Marais’s wife re­mem­bered him as “just my hus­band”.

Marais and other fire­fight­ers who bat­tled the blaze that rav­aged the area four months ago were hon­oured by the Kirsten­bosch Lions Club on Satur­day.

Marais was a free­lance he­li­copter pi­lot for Work­ing on Fire and died in March when he was forced to make an emer­gency land­ing while bat­tling fires that de­stroyed over 5 000 hectares of land.

His wife Jackie ac­cepted the Louis Volks Award given to ac­knowl­edge her hus­band’s work.

The emo­tional widow ac­cepted the award say­ing: “To me he wasn’t a hero. He was just my hus­band.”

“He spoilt me rot­ten, I re­ally miss him,” Jackie added.

The Louis Volks Award is the high­est Lions Club hon­our in South Africa and is named af­ter a found­ing mem­ber.

Lions Club is an in­ter­na­tional vol­un­teer ser­vice or­gan­i­sa­tion and has around 1.4 mil­lion mem­bers glob­ally.

The cer­e­mony dou­bled as the Kirsten­bosch Lions Club’s an­nual Pres­i­den­tial In­duc­tion ban­quet.

The sec­ond award was given to the Cape Town Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice and Vol­un­teer Wild­fire Ser­vice. It was ac­cepted by Cape Town fire chief Ian Sch­netler and Jon-Jon Emary.

When re­ceiv­ing the award Sch­netler said that fire­fight­ers did not see them­selves as he­roes.

“The tough­est part of be­ing a fire­man is de­cid­ing to en­list. The rest of it is just another day on the job,” he said.

Emary thanked the city fire and res­cue ser­vice for work­ing with them and also ac­knowl­edged the cit­i­zens of Cape Town for their sup­port.

At the ban­quet, Kirsten­bosch Lions pres­i­dent Sun­dru Pil­lay also an­nounced the es­tab­lish­ment of the Jack Se­gall Bur­sary Fund, named in hon­our of one of the club’s char­ter mem­bers and a lead­ing mem­ber of the le­gal fra­ter­nity, who died last month.

The fund will be launched of­fi­cially at the club’s Women’s Day event on Au­gust 8, which was kicked off on Satur­day with a R60 000 boost from lead­ing courier com­pany Courierit.

In ad­di­tion, the club in­ducted as mem­bers on Satur­day the con­sul-gen­eral of In­dia, Puneet Kun­dal, and his wife Dr Arun­thathie Kun­dal.

HON­OURED: Fire­fighter Willem Hen­drik ‘Bees’ Marais’s wife, Jackie, ac­cepts the Louis Volks Award from Kirsten­bosch Lions Club pres­i­dent Sun­dru Pil­lay.

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