Thank you - they are two simple words
But two words that can mean so much.
And thank you was certainly the theme of a special function at Nerriga on Saturday.
The small village, west of Nowra, was ravaged in 2019-20 bushfires, with the community coming together to say thank you, especially to the many Rural Fire Service crews and first responders who fought so gallantly to save the community.
The "Nerriga Thank You Day" was more than 12 months in the planning.
Initially planned for last year, the event had to be postponed due to the COVID outbreak.
More than 400 people from the local community and, of course, various emergency services, took part in the day, centred on the Nerriga Hotel.
Sarah Smith, who owns the hotel with her husband Phil, said the day was "superb" and a "great healing event for the community".
"The whole event was aimed for the community to simply say thank you to all those firefighters and first responders who not only fought hard to initially save the village but then continued to be part of our recovery day after day," Mrs Smith said.
"We had hoped to have more of our emergency service personnel here, but as is their way, many had either suffered flood damage themselves or were off volunteering helping with the flood emergency.
"After being put off due to COVID last year, this was just the chance for the community to say thank you to all those brave people who put their lives at risk to help us."
Along with the overwhelming community support, the day was also made possible after the Nerriga Progress and Sporting Association secured grant funding following the fires from Cooridinare.
A special guest at the event was former RFS Commissioner and now head of Resilience NSW Shane Fitzsimmons, who presented an inspirational speech.
"It was just a great event for the whole community - a way for us to say thanks but also to aid in the community's recovery after the fires," Mrs Smith said.
"There are still a number of people hurting - some have been able to rebuild, some haven't. Some have stayed, some haven't. This was part of our healing process.
"As Shane said it's okay for the community to be still feeling it and how important it is for us as a community to continue to support each other - even by just the simple question of 'how are you going?'
"We will never forget what happened and what it took to save our village."
Mrs Smith said the thank you event was a real community effort.
"Everyone was involved from the Nerriga Progress and Sporting Association through to the Nerriga RFS - the whole community just came together," she said.
"We had an organising committee of community members who worked hard to initially have this event last year and then worked again to get things organised again after being cancelled due to COVID.
"This was just a way for the community to thank all the RFS, SES, heavy plant machine operators, water cart drivers, police, paramedics and everyone involved in keeping Nerriga and its surrounding localities safe."
President of the Nerriga Progress and Sporting Association Helen Rolland, Nerriga RFS captain Justin Par and Phil Smith all made speeches during the event.
Steven Speed from the Fortune of War Hotel in Sydney presented the community with $20,000 on behalf of the Sydney City Liquor Accord, which is made up of 300 city pubs, to be used for the benefit of the community.
The day included live entertainment, activities for the kids and a wonderful array of food.
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