Goulburn mourns Robbie Hughes' passing

HE LIVED TO SERVE; Robert William Hughes, former ambulance officer, firefighter,  emergency radio service operator, husband, father and grandfather, passed away on May 10, 2017 at Bourke Street Health Service. Photo: supplied
HE LIVED TO SERVE; Robert William Hughes, former ambulance officer, firefighter, emergency radio service operator, husband, father and grandfather, passed away on May 10, 2017 at Bourke Street Health Service. Photo: supplied

Goulburn has lost another treasured member of its community to cancer. Robert William Hughes passed away on Wednesday, May 10, at Bourke Street Health Service.

In December last year he was diagnosed with cancer, similar to the primary cancer that took his daughter Helen’s life in early 2016. He was just 71 years of age.

Better known as Robbie, he lived his life for the community. He was a former ambulance paramedic, volunteer firefighter, SES member, and NSW Fire Brigade retained firefighter.

He served as a NSW ambulance officer (paramedic) for 31 years until he was medically retired.

He had over 50 years’ service with the Rural Fire Service as a volunteer.

Robbie was a founding member of the Goulburn Mulwaree SES in 1970 and then the Headquarters Rural Fire Brigade in 1976.

His passion was improving emergency communication for the RFS and people in the surrounding rural district, leading to the establishment of the Hughes home as an emergency monitoring radio base. 

Robbie and his wife Dulcie played a major part in establishing the Mulwaree Shire Bushfire Brigade communications network, and fire control centre. The Hughes home in Coromandel Street, with its large radio tower, became one of the monitoring points providing 24-hour a day response. It meant a huge saving in the time it took to get emergency services rolling to an incident and undoubtedly saved lives and property.

In the 1980s as UHF CB radios became popular, Robbie and a group of friends including Ken Oakley, who owned Double Diamond Electronics at the time, banded together to establish a UHF channel four repeater to improve the ability of local farmers, the Rural Fire Service and other users to communicate and report emergencies. 

In 1990 Robbie and Tony Porter applied for and were granted a telecommunications licence to establish the channel five emergency repeater, which Tony remains the lisencee for and continues to monitor. For several years Mulwaree Support Brigade housed its primary response fire truck at the Hughes place. Robbie continued to monitor the radio at home until he was hospitalised.

Local grazier and businessman Guy Milson said on of hearing Robbie’s passing: “Robbie Hughes was selfless in the extreme and a humble person, never wanting accolades for the tremendous service he and Dulcie provided to the community, through his work as an ambulance officer, or as a volunteer with the RFS and with the radio communication network.”

Robert Hughes funeral will be held at St Saviour’s Cathedral at 1pm on Friday,  May 19.