Vollies the backbone of Katanning community

Headshot of Sarah Makse
Sarah MakseGreat Southern Herald
Domenic Laurino, Trevor Watson, Doug Cherry and Hilary Harris.
Camera IconDomenic Laurino, Trevor Watson, Doug Cherry and Hilary Harris. Credit: Sarah Makse.

From saving lives to nurturing the next generation of leaders, volunteers are the lifeblood of many towns across the Great Southern.

National Volunteer Week is a time to pay tribute to these unsung heroes who have donated their time over decades to keep Katanning’s heart beating.

For Katanning Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service captain of 25 years Trevor Watson, the value of volunteering was cemented in February when the town battled one of the worst bushfires in its history.

The team attend about 65 fires a year and are ready to protect their community at a moment’s notice.

Get in front of tomorrow's news for FREE

Journalism for the curious Australian across politics, business, culture and opinion.


“It’s a lot of hours that people might not realise — people see us go out to a fire, but we have to come back and get our gear right and be ready to go again,” he said.

“There are a lot of people out there doing a lot of work as volunteers.

“We are probably noticed a bit more because we are out in the big red trucks.

“You get to see the best in people, and you get to see it quite often.”

St John Ambulance volunteer Doug Cherrysaid “you can always find the time” to help others.

Doug Cherry and Trevor Watson.
Camera IconDoug Cherry and Trevor Watson. Credit: Sarah Makse.

After retiring as a paid patient transport officer with St John WA, Mr Cherry jumped into a volunteer role, which he has held for six years.

Mr Cherry has also been a Lions Club member for 44 years, and a volunteer for sporting clubs, Landcare and the Shire.

“It is the little things that I get the buzz out of, and when you are walking around in the green uniform and people say ‘thank you’ — that’s probably the biggest buzz you get,” he said.

“They realise what you do and how the doing can help.

“I think anyone can be a good volunteer — it is just about flicking the switch.”

Beyond the front line, Katanning Scout Group leader Hilary Harris has volunteered to help young leaders for 24 years.

Domenic Laurino and Hilary Harris.
Camera IconDomenic Laurino and Hilary Harris. Credit: Sarah Makse.

“I have always done volunteering my whole life,” she said.

“As with all volunteering, you are only as good as the team behind you, and I have been very fortunate.”

Ms Harris said the best part of her role was watching her Scouts grow up.

“Over the years you see the kids mature, and by the time they are ready to leave us, they are quite confident young people,” she said.

Katanning Wanderers’ Domenic Laurino has been working behind the scenes for 40 years as a coach, manager and president.

“I was lucky and my kids were lucky to be involved, but I thought ‘what would happen if there was no club?’,” he said.

“I stayed involved from there for the main reason that I want there to be something for the kids in town.

“Volunteers are the backbone of country towns.

“If you take them away, you don’t have a community anymore, you have a drop-in centre.

“I’m proud of the footy club and I’m proud of my town.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails