When Gary Langford and his young family arrived in Nambour in 1990, it was still the capital of the Sunshine Coast. As far as he is concerned, it still is, and even though much has changed, he remains as committed to his causes as ever.
It wasn’t long after arriving in town that Langford settled into the first of many community roles, giving freely of his time and leadership skills.
He was working on the local newspaper and felt he had a lot to contribute. It turned out he did. Gary joined the Nambour Chamber of Commerce and ended up staying for 10 years, four of them as president.
During this time he was instrumental in the implementation of the “Great Nambour House and Land Give Away” which promoted the Nambour community and its business houses. It was so successful he ended up travelling to other regions around the state helping them establish a similar promotion.
Langford also spent 10 years working for the St Vincent De Paul Homeless Men’s Shelter in Nambour.
“We had two houses side by side at the top Nambour, and each housed about 16 -18 men dormitory style,” he says. ““We worked closely with police and there was a time when Woodford Prison would call saying they had someone ready for release and asking if we could take him. It was our policy to say ‘yes’, no questions asked. It was full every night.”
Langford played a key role in managing the project. Hundreds of men passed through before the doors finally closed almost 20 years ago.
It ended when the State Government ruled that dormitory accommodation was in breach of the privacy act. The men had to have their own rooms and to be given 24-hours notice before anyone entered.
“It was no longer possible. We had to close both down,” Langford says.
He also worked on the Taskforce 2000 committee which encouraged visiting athletes to acclimatise on the Sunshine Coast before the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, but his real work has been with the Nambour Local Ambulance Committee.
“While I was president of the chamber of commerce, I was invited to a meeting to discuss all things Ambulance at the old station in Howard St,” he says. “There were three of us and they talked us into forming a local ambulance committee.”
It was 1999, and the State Government had only just taken over the QATB.
“There was not much money in the budget for the ambulance and local committees did a lot of the fundraising,” he explains.
“The Nambour station had only one defibrillator. It was worth about $25,000 and was looked after by the officer in charge. The crews out on the road didn’t have one so if they needed it, the OIC had to deliver it to them.”
When a committee members had a cardiac arrest, the OIC arrived wth the defibrillator and brought him back to life three times on the way to the hospital.
“As a result of that we raised the money to buy the station four defibrillators, so Nambour station ended up with five and became the envy of every station on the Sunshine Coast,” Langford says.
Then the QAS budget increased and so did the population.
“The workload for paramedics has gone through the roof,” Langford says. “But budgets increased and we don’t raise funds any more. Our job now is to educate the community about pre-ambulance care, in particular CPR.
Now 73, Gary retired from his job in real estate a year ago, but not his voluntary work. He just has more time for it now.
“Everybody loves what paramedics do, and to be able to work with them is enviable not hard yakka,” he says. “It is very rewarding.”
And his closing word? Volunteer!
“I would love to have a year when we see the number of volunteers double.”