Rhonda and Kevin Butler received an Australia Community Group Award and Westpac Regional Achiever of the Year at the 2021 Community Achievement Awards for Regional Victoria, presented last month.

BLAZEAID has been recognised for its outstanding efforts in helping communities rebuild after natural disasters with being awarded the Australia Community Group Award.

The award was announced at the 2021 Community Achievement Awards for Regional Victoria on February 26, and was one of seven to be presented for the evening.

BlazeAid founder Kevin Butler, of Kilmore East, said he and his wife Rhonda were ‘stoked’ about receiving the award, which reflected the effort of the tens of thousands volunteers contributing to the organisation.

“We are stoked about the award, and we really weren’t expecting it at all. But it’s about the 35,000 volunteers with BlazeAid and all the work they’ve contributed,” he said.

“As volunteers, of course you don’t get paid for the work you do, but you still have to manage to keep the wolf away from the door with a nine to five job as well.

“As Australians, we do like to help people and give back as much as possible. Australian and volunteering goes together like peas and gravy… and BlazeAid just wouldn’t be possible without all the volunteers.”

After the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, Mr and Mrs Butler urgently needed fencing for their 1500 sheep, and with the help of 25 volunteers, they had a fence up within a week, which in other instances would have taken months to repair.

They then decided to help others in the same position, and with the intention of helping for only a couple of weeks, BlazeAid was formed and has since helped communities for the next 14 years.

“Before BlazeAid, there wasn’t much for people to turn to for help… but we are very proud of how far it has come and all the help the volunteers have provided to all those effected by floods and fires,” Mr Butler said.

BlazeAid was also announced as the 2021 Westpac Regional Achiever of the Year.

Winners of each category received either a $2000 Westpac Choice Account, or a PRIME7 Television Package and a trophy. BlazeAid received an additional $2000 Westpac Choice Account and state trophy.