Family, friends and fireys farewell John Holmes who died at the firefront

The funeral procession at Mallanganee.

Susanna Freymark

John Holmes died at the Bean Creek firefront on October 14.

For 52 years, the senior deputy captain served in the Mallanganee Fire Brigade.

Hundreds of people and RFS commissioners came to pay their respect at his funeral at the Mallanganee Memorial Hall today, Friday, November 3.

John was described as a quiet man who was a good listener. He was the partner of Mavis Goodlad who is also in the Mallanganee Brigade.

John Holmes at the farm at Mallanganee.

Mavis’s son Donald Goodlad described the man who raised him.

I see John sitting in his favourite chair in the kitchen reading the newspaper, listening to cricket on the radio and eating toast with peach jam thinking about farm chores that needed to be done.

John was the youngest of six children and he spent his life living in the farmhouse on the Mallanganee Range.

He loved cricket, football and motorbikes. John was a keen apiarist and he stewed peaches to make preserves.

“He was supportive to our mother,” Donald said.

John Holmes and Mavis Goodlad.

John was also a member of Manchester Unity  – a not-for-profit organisation that provides help to members and communities when they need it.

Mallanganee fire captain Neville O’Malley said he met John 30 years ago when John was helping to put a fire out next door to Neville’s home in Mallanganee.

John was 74 when he died at the firefront.

Mention was made of John’s actual 74th birthday – where was he?

With his crew doing what he loved – fighting a fire.

John Holmes in his younger years.

RFS officials from Sydney came to Mallanganee for today’s funeral including Commissioner Rob Rogers, district manager Daniel Ainsworth, deputy commissioners Peter McKenzie and Kyle Stewart, executive director of people and strategy Trina Schmidt and district officer Helen Carlos.

Minister for Emergency Management Jihad Dib presented the RFS flag to Mavis and walked in the procession.

State MP Janelle Saffin, former MP Thomas George and Kyogle deputy mayor Tom Cooper were also at the funeral.

The priest officiating said John would not have liked “all this fuss”.

John may have been a quiet but his presence and influence was not. He will be missed.

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