A Look Back at 2021 by the Museum's Chairman
The last year of 2021 has, like the previous year, thrown up many challenges for the Museum’s Board, Staff and Volunteers to navigate through. In reflection, I find it uncanny how the 2020-2021 Financial Year started by coming out of lockdown and closed by entering into another lockdown due to the new Delta Covid strain evolving. This amongst other challenges tested the resilience and imagination of our Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and her very capable team of staff and volunteers.
In turning back, the clock to the 2020 Annual General Meeting the Museum’s Board of Directors unanimously decided to appoint Miss Belinda McMartin as our CEO. Belinda had been our interim CEO since the passing of our former CEO Mr Mark White AFSM, OAM. Belinda brought with her a wealth of experience and knowledge not only in Museum best practices but also a competence in harnessing the value of social media and the internet. These skill sets were of a great asset when lockdown threw us into the virtual world.
Although the 2020 lockdown restrictions were eased at the beginning of the FY 2020/21, a strict Covid plan remained in place and the uncertainty of the environment left the Museums Board with little choice but to once again postpone major revenue raising events such as the Working Truck Show, Sydney Classic and Antique Truck Show as well as the Doll Bear and Craft Fair. Even with this loss of these revenue raising events the Museum was able to maintain its solvency and closed the year with a positive balance sheet. I have little doubt that this is due not only to the creativity of our CEO and her team, but also the hard work by our Treasurer, Mr David McIllhatton, in navigating the assistance packages provided by both Federal and State Government and incorporating them into a workable budget. This was aided and abetted by an overarching governance
With the loss of these major revenue streams Belinda and her team engaged their
imaginations and came up with new ways to raise the profile of the Museum and increase patronage. The Art Competition for all schools across the state is one example that comes to mind. The theme for the competition was Bushfires and we were overwhelmed with the number of entries received.
Our heritage partnership with Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) was founded in 1975 with the then New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB). The support of FRNSW has been a cornerstone of the Museums foundations and this year proved no different. This year the Brigade invited us to promote the Museum at their display at the Royal Easter Show as well as assist them in community education. Further to that we were also invited to participate in the Brigades Open Day with the Museums grounds converted into a Fire Station where the latest technology in Fire Fighting, Rescue and Hazmat were all displayed. Penrith City Council has also been a long-term partner of the Museum to which we are very grateful for their ongoing support.
I would also like to acknowledge our State Government representative, the Honourable Stuart Ayres MP, Federal Government representative, Miss Melissa McIntosh and our Museum Patron, the Honourable David Elliott, BA, MA, MP, Minister for Police and Emergency Services for their ongoing support.
Pictured Above: Minister Stuart Ayres (left) visits the Museum in December 2020 and Minister David Elliot (right) visits the Museum in February 2021 with FRNSW Deputy Commissioner Jim Hamilton.
Throughout the year many difficult decisions had to be made to ensure the continuity
and growth of the Museum. The Board of Directors never wavered from this task and
placed the prosperity and future of the Museum at the forefront.
The collection management, research, restoration and heritage services as well as ground maintenance of the Museum continued seamlessly, and this must be put down to the dedication and willingness of all staff and volunteers. This capable team was headed up by our CEO, Belinda whose creativity and endurance knows no bounds.
The new financial year, 2021-22 is now well underway and we are looking forward to some clear air so we can build on all the hard work to date. With all the upheavals experienced recently it gives me great pleasure to report that the Museum remains in a strong and stable position.
The 2021/2022 Museum of Fire Board of Directors are as follows:
Mr. Marcus Baker AFSM – Chairman
Superintendent Peter Stathis AFSM (FRNSW Representative) – Vice Chairman
Mr. David McIllhatton (Penrith City Council Representative) – Treasurer
Mr. Graham Dewsnap MBA, AFSM – Secretary/ Public Officer
Chief Superintendent Ken Murphy (FRNSW Representative)
Mr. Christopher Fish (FRNSW Representative)
Ms. Helen Stone
We extend our gratitude to everyone who has shown their support throughout this difficult year. We are thankful to our Board of Directors, our partners, our volunteers and staff, and the community, whose hard work has put the Museum in a strong position. We look forward to an even better 2022.
Thank you and Best Wishes for the upcoming year.
-Marcus Baker AFSM, Museum of Fire Chairman