TWO prominent Wimmera residents have been recognised for their long service with the Royal Victorian Association of Honorary Justices.
Horsham’s Kerryn Shade and Nhill’s Rob Gersch were both presented with certificates for 35 years of service.
The presentations were made at the association’s annual dinner on August 31.
Association president Geoffrey Legge presented the pair with their certificates on a night when Victorian Adult Parole Board chairman Peter Couzens was a guest speaker.
Mr Gersch said he was originally asked to become a justice of the peace when there was a shortage of them in Nhill.
“I thought it would be a good way to serve and support my community,” he said.
“In those days, our responsibility would be to sit on the bench in the court.
“One time I was playing cricket and a police officer came down to ask me to help them remand a young fellow at the station. That was one of the more interesting incidents.”
He said the role of a justice of the peace was to not get involved in personal matters.
“You do see some unfortunate things, but people have always been understanding,” he said.
“I’m the only justice of the peace in Nhill, so my phones rings very often. I’m available seven days a week and into the nighttime if I’m needed.”
After 35 years in the role, Mr Gersch said he had no plans of retirement.
“We’ve got to make sure we can look after the community and their needs,” he said.
“It’s an important role that is all about being there when people need some assistance in difficult times.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to serve my community and receive this honour alongside one of my dear friends, Kerry. I will continue to serve in the role well into the future.”
Mr Shade was first appointed as a justice of the peace when he was the shire secretary at Natimuk during the drought of 1982-83.
The Shire of Arapiles had organised to work with farmers to shoot and bury sheep affected by the conditions.
Mr Shade’s role as a justice of the peace at the time was to certify and witness all of the farmer’s claims.