Sam joined the Pilgrim Bandits in 2019, after the op spin fundraiser in Rolleston. Sam’s emergency service involvement began aged 17, when he joined Methven Land Search and Rescue early in 2015. Still a member of this group today, Sam has been involved in numerous searches with the group. Most memorably, these include being part of the first team in at the 2017 13-mile bush rescue and leading the hasty team on the 2018 Mt Peel rescue. Since then, Sam has been elected a member of the Methven LandSAR committee. In 2016, Sam joined the Ashburton Rural Volunteer Fire Force. Since this time, Sam has seen the evolution to Fire and Emergency New Zealand. In 2019, Sam joined the Rolleston Volunteer Fire Brigade, retraining as an urban firefighter. It was through this brigade that he met the Pilgrim Bandits. In 2022, Sam left both brigades, to join the Ashburton Volunteer Fire Brigade (Urban). In his time with the various brigades, Sam has taken part in several large-scale fires, including the 2017 Port hills fire, 2018 Seales Winslow fire and 2021 Lake Pukaki Fire.
Since joining the Pilgrim Bandits in 2019, Sam has taken part in several expeditions, including the 2020 Operation Te Tauihu-o-te-waka, Simon Beal memorial treks, as well as various overnight events. In 2023, Sam covered 48 kilometres in the Ashburton Riverbed on foot, fundraising for the Crete expedition. Sam remembers all his adventures with the Pilgrim Bandits fondly, saying “I have never not enjoyed an expedition with the Pilgrim Bandits, despite the challenges we face. Ultimately, the people I meet on these adventures are what make the time away so special.”
Sam became a trustee of the charity in 2023, with the aim of using his training as a director, as well as learnings from his time in emergency services, to contribute to the charity. Sam also owns and manages an engineering company in Ashburton. In 2022, he was awarded youth volunteer of the year for mid-south canterbury, as a result of his work with the Pilgrim Bandits charity.
2022 saw one of the biggest challenges for Sam, suffering a seizure in July. While this prevented him from driving for the next seven months, he was able to take part in various Pilgrim Bandits activities thanks to the support of the other members. This time was challenging for Sam, and he is grateful to the charity for allowing him to continue his involvement throughout.