Guests of honour were Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan, SES Commissioner Murray Kear, MLC Amanda Fazio and local MP Don Page, with local controller Noel McAviney opening procedures with ‘a very genuine apology from a very helpful person’, mayor Jan Barham, whose council duties prevented her attending, but whose message, “How proud I am of all the work you do,” was well-received.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Noel of the purpose-built $235,000 facility, going on to recall the day after moving-in day back in May, when flash floods and wild storms hit the district with a vengeance, and suddenly it was all systems go as volunteers were swamped with calls for help and information.
Don Page complimented the team, not only on their response to the crisis, but also on the way they warned the community about an event that one SES volunteer had described as ‘a bit like the end of the world’.
“I want to thank you on behalf of the broader community,” he said, “for you risk your lives, and at no charge to the community.”
Commissioner Kear, in Mullumbimby on his first official visit, was pleased with the new building, though he noted that, without the volunteers, ‘it’s only a building, just tin and rivets’ and he thanked the men and women for all the work they do, acknowledging ‘all the dinners ruined, birthday parties left, families abandoned in the middle of the night’.
Minister Steve Whan said that the $235,000 cost of the building was ‘a pretty modest investment on something that will make such a big contribution the community’, and he presented a cheque for $5000 to the service that will go towards air-conditioning units for the building.
As part of the ceremonies, three volunteers were awarded long service awards: Raymond Lawrence, who looks after all road information; Christina Twomey, intelligence officer; and Allan Gibson, an out in the field man.
After the dedication of the building by area chaplain Ben Richardson, Mr McAviney closed proceedings by reading the message received from a grateful South Golden Beach family helped by SES in May, which said that ‘your people were our rock during the recent storms’. “That is one of the best rewards we can get,” said Noel.
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