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Veteran emergency services leader in Marlborough Sounds village wins $10k for a well-earned holiday

A man who's been leading the rural fire brigade in a tiny Marlborough Sounds village for over a quarter of a century, and has his pager on 24/7, can take a well-earned holiday after being awarded $10,000 for his service to his community.

Ian "Monty" Montgomery of Okiwi Bay is this week's winner of the ASB Good As Gold award on TVNZ1's Seven Sharp. 

Monty owns the local campground and runs the convenience store, but is also the man who helms both the volunteer fire and ambulance services in Okiwi Bay. 

"He's pretty crucial to what's happened in the development of what's happening in this bay - the fire service, the ambulance service. I can't think of anyone I've personally ever met that I think is more deserving of this," said Mark Logan who nominated Monty for the award.

"His pager is on him 24 hours a day. Monty does everything. He's a Jack of all trades. He'll see a need and he'll just fill a gap."

Chris Hayles, the area's deputy principal fire officer said Monty has been controller in the volunteer rural fire force at Okiwi Bay for about 26 years. 

"They do pretty much everything we need them to," he said, and that includes St John Ambulance services.

"I think last Thursday was his first day out of the bay in 10-and-a-half weeks. Monty cancelled his holiday just in case he was needed for the Nelson fires as well," Mr Hayles said.

Monty said he was "pretty overwhelmed actually" when reporter Matty McLean choppered in to surprise him with the news he's the winner.

Wife Pam said it was "well deserved".

Monty enthused: "Singapore looks like it's gonna happen. That's absolutely marvelous."

He said that when he first came to the bay he was the only person in the community who held an advanced first aid ticket, "so everything started to come to me".

"And then we formed a registered rural fire party and I was one of the committee that got that up and running. I couldn't do it without Pam being prepared to hold the fort when I just disappear."

Monty recalled the brigade has managed to stop some house fires from spreading, and managed to save one house back when they didn't even have an appliance but just a trailer and a portable pump.

"I'm 72 now, so I'm starting to look forward to wanting to retire properly. And I will be taking a break."

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    Ian Montgomery is a business owner who helms both volunteer fire and ambulance services in Okiwi Bay. Source: Seven Sharp