Ray Angel says you could have "knocked me over with a feather" when he was named the state winner of the 2019 Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards in the marine rescue category.
The awards were announced in Sydney in early August.
A popular member of the Marine Rescue Port Macquarie unit, Mr Angel was first named a regional winner.
He said he was shocked to claim the state prize and was quick to point to a harmonious unit as reasons behind his success.
"You don't join a volunteer organisation to get awards," he said.
"I joined up just to do a job. To help people. It is that simple.
"It was a shock to even get recognised."
The ex-Navy man joined marine rescue in 2015 and quickly made his mark within the unit.
He estimates the Port Macquarie unit to be the second busiest in NSW.
"And that keeps you on your toes," he said.
Mr Angel praised his fellow unit members for their commitment to training, maintaining discipline and performing under pressure.
"You practice and train constantly so you can get it right when it matters," he said.
"Repetitive training stops you from making mistakes at sea, particularly in rescue situations.
Repetitive training stops you from making mistakes at sea, particularly in rescue situations.Ray Angel
"It is no different to the navy days."
Mr Angel said the unit should be proud of its achievements, particularly being shortlisted for an international rescue award.
"That is huge news for Port Macquarie and also Australia.
"I understand that this is the first time an Australian organisation has been recognised in these awards.
"The recognition you receive is not just for the individual, it is a light on the entire unit. It could have been anyone else."
Unit Commander Greg Davies says the continued training and running scenarios is the real reason behind the success of the unit.
The unit boasts some 170 members, while the radio station operates 24 hours.
Founder of the Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards, Dot Hennessy OAM, said all the nominees were amazing people.
"These shows highlight that we are in really good hands," she said.
"The dedication and passion these volunteers have is unequalled by any service or organisation.
"It is a real honour for Rotary and the community to be able to recognise these people and put them forward to be recognised in this way.
These people don't look for it (the attention). They are very humbled.Dot Hennessy
"These people don't look for it (the attention). They are very humbled," she said.
"It is just a great way of working with the community to reinforce how special these volunteers' skills and dedication are to us all."
The overall winner, officer in paid capacity, was a Fire and Rescue NSW 38-year firefighting veteran, Zone Commander (Illawarra) Superintendent Anthony Waller.
The overall winner, officer in volunteer capacity, was NSW Volunteer Rescue Association Captain of the Albury and Border Rescue Squad Paul Marshall.
Mrs Hennessy said the inaugural national winners will be announced at a special event in October.
"This is the first year that we have taken these awards to the national level," she said.
"The two winners from NSW and the ACT will now be judged as the Australian winner."
Also making news:
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox from the Port Macquarie News. To make sure you're up to date with all the news, SIGN UP HERE.