THREE greyhound industry participants have been recognised with Distinguished Service Awards for their outstanding community contributions during the horrendous bushfires in the summer of 2019-20.
Nowra's Glenn Midson and Goulburn's Patrick Day and Greg Hore were honoured at GRNSW's Greyhound Of The Year ceremony last Sunday, and the still raw emotion of Glenn's acceptance speech could be felt by all in the room.
The bushfires, which swept across the State, engulfed Midson's region in Nowra, and his hometown greyhound track became an evacuation haven for locals and their animals, albeit within only a matter of kilometres from the flames.
"If I hear about a bushfire today, it sends a chill up my spine. It never used to be like that, but it is now," Glenn says.
"It was 3.30 of an afternoon and everything had gone black, and you see this red glow heading your way. You put on the brave face, as the people there tend to look to me for a lot of things, and I just had to be calm, but it got to the stage where you take a few deep breaths, wonder if you're even going to be safe, and then wonder what do you do next?
"We had 120 dogs (greyhounds), about eight cats, three birds, about 20 pet dogs, all our kennels were full and we had dog trailers with dogs in them in the betting ring. And we had about 30 people who had evacuated, sleeping in the bar area.
"You want to stay one step ahead of the game, but across the road is a State forest, and there are trees all around ... we had a couple of times when it was really serious.
"We were in the firing line, but we were probably fortunate that it just went to the west of us, but it looked like the end of the world. I honestly didn't know what was going to happen, and whether I would be around to see what would happen tomorrow.
"It was probably three to 10 kilometres away, but you could feel the intensity of the heat and smoke.
"Thankfully everyone and all the dogs were fine which was probably good luck more than good management."
It was similar at Goulburn and Club Manager Patrick Day recalled that when their 120 kennels were full, he and Greg would collect dogs from threatened areas and take them to Appin to be safely housed.
"It's amazing what has happened in the world in the two years since then, but that time will never be forgotten by anyone who lived through it," Patrick said.
"The greyhound industry is a community, they are our family and friends, and of course we are going to do everything we can to help them.
"We were at capacity in the kennels, and our trial kennels were used for other breeds of dogs as well.
"Thankfully the fires didn't get too close to us, but the smoke ... it got so thick at one point that if you left the door open it would set off the fire alarms.
"The work of everyone during that time was just amazing, and I think it just typified the Australian spirit and culture, and we were grateful that we were able to support the local RFS (Rural Fire Service) with the money raised through the GRNSW Red and Yellow Appeal at the time.
"This recognition is great, but you do these things simply because it's the only thing to do for the people of your community."
This article was produced as part of an ACM partnership with Greyhound Racing NSW.