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Gold Star firefighter mourned

A 2013 photo of Garry Jackson, right, and Martinborough firefighters Wayne Thomas, left, Dean Di Bona and Sparky Goad who helped battle a scrub fire at Cape Palliser near the Putangirua Pinnacles. PHOTO/FILE

Jackson remembered for loyalty, putting others first

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Martinborough is mourning the loss of senior firefighter Garry Jackson, who died suddenly on Friday.

Jackson, 67, was well known and respected for being a kind, community-minded man who put others first, those who knew him said on Monday.

His stint as a volunteer firefighter spanned just shy of 50 years with Martinborough Fire Brigade, where he was fire chief from 1992 to 2014.

Jackson was awarded his gold star medal after 25 years in the service.

His loyalty was also demonstrated by a 41-year-long career at Pain and Kershaw supermarket, where he started working aged 15, and then worked his way up to the grocery manager’s position.

Born in Martinborough, Jackson more recently worked for Tranzit driving the Kahutara School bus.

He leaves behind his wife, Dianna, whom he married at their “open invite” wedding on Labour weekend last October.

Jackson also leaves behind his three children, Jason, Susanne, and Amy, whom he had with his late first wife Margaret, eight grandchildren, and siblings, Donald, Laureen, and Rex.

His son, Jason, said on Monday his father was extremely generous with his time and an exceptional role model with his “strong sense of community”.

“He was much-loved and the rock of our family – an amazing dad who did anything for us.

“He was always there for us and is adored by all his grandchildren.

“Dad always had time for everyone, and his family are extremely devastated.”

Former P&K manager David Kershaw said Jackson was a long-time friend who he described as being “a very loyal and conscientious guy”.

Martinborough fire chief Bill Butzbach said the brigade was devastated and it was working to support Jackson’s family.

“It’s such a terrible tragedy and naturally we are pretty shocked, as are many people in the town.”

He said Jackson was just months away from receiving his 50-year Long Service Medal, a rather rare feat, and for many years he was “the glue” that held the brigade together, keeping membership up and camaraderie at a high.

“He was absolutely passionate and committed to firefighting and brought a great deal of experience and support to his team.”

Butzbach said Jackson had time for everyone and always went out of his way to help others, particularly the elderly, with whom he would socialise and do odd jobs for them, such as mow their lawns.

“Because of his kind nature, people remembered him, even if they only met him once.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said the district had lost “an amazing community stalwart”.

She said his longevity with the fire service was a testament to his caring nature.

“Everyone knew Garry. The community has lost a key person and it’s just so sad and tragic.”

A service for Jackson will be held at the Martinborough Fire Station on Friday, at 1pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations are made to Suicide Prevention through the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.

Where to get help

Lifeline: 0800 543 354

Kidsline: 0800 543 754 54 (0800 KIDSLINE) supporting under 18s

Youthline: 0800 376 633, free text 234

Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (supports 5-18-year-olds, 1pm-11pm)

Women’s Refuge Crisis Line: 0800 733 843

Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757

Samaritans: 0800 726 666

Healthline: 0800 611 116

Outline NZ: 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE) sexuality and gender identity

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