Australia Day honours have thrust two unsung Port Fairy heroes into the spotlight.
Port Fairy Marine Rescue Service members Russell Lemke and Howard Willoughby have been awarded Emergency Service Medals.
The pair have put in a combined 26 years to the marine rescue service, with Mr Willoughby serving for the past 12 years and Mr Lemke a founding member who began his dedication to the cause in 2007.
Both men have played a vital role in establishing the marine rescue service and driving its continued evolution.
They were key contributors in the battle to get a new vessel for the service after its original wad no longer able to meet the growing needs of the marine rescue service.
The new $1.25 million vessel arrived in Port Fairy at the start of 2020, ending a long campaign to secure the required funding.
Mr Lemke said the marine rescue service had been worth its weight in gold since its first vessel hit the water in 2008.
"Before we had the marine rescue service, the town's fisherman had to head out to sea in their own boats and rescue anyone in trouble," Mr Lemke said.
"The state government did a survey and the feedback showed that Port Fairy was an area that needed greater attention. The marine rescue service came out of that and we have been working hard ever since to make the waters around Port Fairy safe for everyone."
In his time in the service, Mr Lemke has been involved in the rescue of 117 people at sea. He is the current president of the service and continues to be the radio and communications lead.
A retired professional fisherman, Mr Willoughby has used this experience to provide training in the ways of the sea to new members during his time in the service.
"We are lucky to have the great set-up we have now, but we have worked hard for it," Mr Willoughby said.
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