SES volunteer Helen Scott tracks the latest cyclone as it nears the Queensland coast. 10m227
SES volunteer Helen Scott tracks the latest cyclone as it nears the Queensland coast. 10m227 Jocelyn Watts

Meet the woman you call when natural disasters strike

WHETHER she's preparing a town for a cyclone, helping families through devastating floods, or out searching for a missing person, Helen Scott draws strength from life experience.

The daughter of a soldier, taken as a prisoner of war in Changi, has endured some tough times in her life including the early loss of her father and her husband.

But 71-year-old Helen Scott never let that stop her from serving her community with the State Emergency Service, giving generously of her time and effort.

Born in Mackay, Helen was the oldest of seven siblings.

Her dad was taken as a prisoner of war in Changi while her mum served in the land army.

During his service, her father battled malaria and he never regained his health.

He died when Helen was 13 years old.

"Complications from the war contributed to his death," she said.

SES workers Yvonne Turvin, Wendy Nilsena nd Helen Scott were on hand to help out customers at the Maryborough Reuse and Recycle Centre. Photo: Megan Pope / Fraser Coast Chronicle
SES workers Yvonne Turvin, Wendy Nilsena nd Helen Scott were on hand to help out customers at the Maryborough Reuse and Recycle Centre. Photo: Megan Pope / Fraser Coast Chronicle Megan Pope FRA040412sessale1



With seven kids to take care of, Helen said her mum did well to support and raise them all after the death of her father.

When she was 15, Helen left school and took a job as a shop assistant in Maryborough.

While her brothers and sisters now live in Mackay, Helen said she knew Maryborough was the place for her.

"I like Maryborough," she said.

"It's a quiet town and it suits me.

"There is something unique about Maryborough, it's special."

When Helen was 17 she met the man who would become her husband.

Cliff was the best mate of her sister's boyfriend and Helen knew there was something she liked about him immediately.

"I was quite taken with him," she said.

At 18 they got married and the couple soon welcomed their daughter, Jenifer.

They had two more children and enjoyed raising their family on the Fraser Coast, Helen said.

Then one day a community meeting was called.

The SES was searching for members and Cliff decided to join up to help out the community.

"He was going and he asked me to go along," Helen said.

That was 24 years ago and she has been a devoted member of the organisation since.

Even after she lost her beloved husband to cancer 16 years ago, Helen stayed with the group.

She's seen a lot in her time.

From searching for missing people to assisting people after storms, cyclones and floods, Helen has been there supporting others and helping to co-ordinate a response to some of the toughest times in the city's history.

She said while floods and cyclones were tough, some of the hardest days had been searching for missing people when the outcome was a tragic one.

But through it all, the SES stuck together, she said.

"I think the people that are in it are just like one big family," she said.

"The members have seen a lot come and go.

"What you put in is what you get out of it.

"Yes we all have our differences, but we all come together during hard times and give back to the community during good times and bad."

While she used to receive the odd call to help get cats out of trees, Helen said over the decades she had noticed people grow more and more appreciative of the work done by the SES.

"Maybe not in peace time but when we have storms they do appreciate it," she said.

"They're more than pleased to see our guys turn up when their roof is down.

"It is the best part when someone says thank you to the volunteers.

"Even if you can't do anything, sometimes just turning up is really valuable for the community."

Feeling like a part of the community was the best part of volunteering, Helen said.

The group prepared the barricades for the recent Queen's Baton Relay event through the region ahead of the Gold Coast's Commonwealth Games and Helen said moments like that were great to see.
 


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