In my reflections on 2021 I stated that we were looking forward to some clear air in 2022 to build on the hard work performed in the previous 12 months. Little did I know that mother nature had other things in mind that would keep our CEO Belinda McMartin, our staff and volunteers continually finding ways to meet the challenges head on! Staff shortages through Covid isolation stretched our very thin workforce to the limit and it amazes me that we were able to keep the doors open. Then La Nina raised its head and local flooding on three separate occasions caused us to temporarily shut the Museum due to access roads being closed and the danger this inflicted on staff and volunteers to attend the Museum. With all the challenges that Belinda and her team faced in 2021-22 it is a credit to them that I can report that the Museum finished the year in a strong and stable position.
Early in the year the Museum’s Board of Directors determined that the Board itself needed to reflect the community of Penrith, its surrounds and its business community so that we had local knowledge that could better contribute to the area and to improve our local community mindedness. The Board welcomed Helen Stone and Gina Field on board who not only had historical knowledge of the Museum but also a solid business expertise base as well as being local identities. To date, Helen and Gina’s contributions have been immeasurable. The Board also welcomed three new Fire and Rescue NSW representatives onto the committee. These new representatives are Assistant Commissioner Cheryl Steer, Superintendent Greg Huston and Inspector Belinda Hooker. These officers represent the new generation of leadership in the Brigade, and we look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with them.
On a sad note, we have two long standing members standing down from the Board. Firstly, David McIllhatton who has been the Penrith Council representative on our Board for many years as well as our Treasurer, has decided to stand down from the Board. David has been with the Museum on the Board since 2009 and been the driving force in generating the structure and robust governance in relation to the Museums financial situation as well as the strategic direction the museum has undertaken. In May 2020 when our former CEO Mark White AFSM OAM passed away, David stepped up to the mark and became our rock. David’s support to myself, the Board and our present CEO Belinda will never be forgotten. On behalf of the Museum, we wish David and his family all the best for the future.
Our second departure from the Board is our Secretary and Public Officer Graham Dewsnap MBA, AFSM. Graham, a retired Assistant Commissioner with the formerly known NSW Fire Brigade who joined the Board of Directors in 1998 and has provided solid strategy in defining our core obligations as a non-profit organisation and registered charity as well as our values and purpose. Graham is also a pillar that stood up when Mark passed away and his wise counsel will surely be missed by the Board and Museum. Again, on behalf of the Museum we wish Graham and family all the best for the future. Both gentlemen will always be welcomed at the Museum.
Considering the head winds that we have experienced over the last couple of years a pleasing aspect is the growth in stature of the Museum with cultural and educational significance. The Museum has broadened its responsibility to the public as well as enhancing its ethical and professional standing within the industry. This can be directly contributed to our CEO, staff, and volunteers. The staff and volunteers have also grown in alignment with the Museum and have really taken ownership for making the publics experience while visiting the Museum, a memorable one.
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 corner stone of the Museums foundations and I’d like to thank them for their ongoing and unwavering support. Penrith City Council has also been a long-term partner of the Museum and we look forward to many more years of collaboration with them.
I would also like to acknowledge our State Government representative, the Honourable Stuart Ayres MP, Federal Government representative, Mrs Melissa McIntosh and our Museum Patron, the Honourable David Elliot, BA, MA, MP, Minister for Transport.
As in previous years the Board of Directors never hesitated in making difficult but strategic decisions to ensure the longevity of the Museum and for this, I owe them my sincere gratitude. Once again, the collection management, research, restoration, and heritage services as well as ground maintenance of the Museum, were and are of an impeccable standard and this is due to the staff and volunteers’ tireless efforts. This team were inspired by our CEO, Miss Belinda McMartin who just keeps delivering quality result
The hard work by all these people allows me to report that we have entered the financial year of 2022-23 in a position of stability which will allow us to expand and improve.
- Marcus Baker AFSM, Museum of Fire Chairman