A splash in the local newspaper unmasked a VSA business advisor who enjoys volunteering in a range of roles.

Steve Smith firefighters

Friends were quick to comment on the fire fighters' 'staunch' pose, says Steve Smith (right).

Appearing on the front page of the Marlborough Express in May sparked a flurry of cheeky emails and texts to volunteer firefighter Steve Smith and two colleagues. Steve, a former VSA volunteer in the Solomons, says the trio were photographed at a fire scene “standing and looking staunch, which was a bit embarrassing”.

He was tipped off the night before the photo appeared that if he was concerned about being in the newspaper, "don’t buy tomorrow’s issue" because he would feature on the cover. “I let one of the other guys know,” Steve says, “and his text simply said ‘leaving town as we speak’."  

Once the paper was out, friends chipped in with comments ranging from “the three stooges, to being on New Zealand’s next top model, to the totally predictable 'your shout at the next training’.”

Steve will head back to the Solomons in August, for his third short stint over an eight-month period as a mentor for small business enterprises. “I had a successful career and now that’s a thing of the past, it’s good to give back in time and effort,” he says.

He enjoys a different work motivation after many years in the service industry. “We seemed to talk incessantly about profits and budgets and what to charge for our work. Now I love the fact you can just do a job because it needs to be done rather than out of an expectation of monetary reward.”

Volunteering, whether for VSA, Rural Fire or Business Mentors, has never felt that onerous, he says. “If you like what is involved and have the time, it’s good fun. I often feel like a fraud in the sense that when I was in the Solomons with VSA I loved talking to people about their business issues so doing the work was relatively easy. It’s similar with the fire fighting.”

Steve says that after his upcoming Solomons stint, he had planned on having a break. But the lure to volunteer is too strong: “I saw another VSA role on Facebook and one part of it was completely captivating so I have put my hand up for that.”