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The Murwillumbah Fire Brigade, a volunteer firefighting brigade of the NSW Rural Fire Service, has received $3,000 thanks to bcu’s Bill Ussher Community Grants to help purchase new safety equipment.

The brigade, made up of 57 volunteer members, attend 150 calls a year on average and play a vital role in the local Murwillumbah community.

Murwillumbah Fire Brigade Deputy Captain, Don Bentley said they were lucky to have a dedicated group of volunteers who are incredibly committed to the Brigade and go above and beyond to help the community time and time again.

“We were very pleased to receive the grant from bcu and will be using the funds to help purchase new safety equipment, such as a thermal imaging camera,” Mr Bentley said.

“Like most fire brigades in this area, we were heavily impacted by the 2019 bushfires and are in the process of implementing some changes to improve our safety following the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.

“A thermal imaging camera is not currently supplied as part of our essential equipment but will help significantly increase the safety for our volunteer firefighters and improve the overall efficiency of the Brigade.”

A total of $50,000 in grants was awarded to twenty community and not-for-profit organisations in the 2020 grants program across the communities in which bcu operates.

Launched late last year to coincide with bcu’s 50-year anniversary, the Bill Ussher Community Grants were created to support the community and not-for-profit groups throughout the regions that bcu support.

General Manager bcu, Michael Ribbens said bcu was passionate about supporting its members and the local communities in which they live.

“We understand that now, more than ever, not-for-profit groups need our support,” Mr Ribbens said.

“As a customer-owned bank, any profits we make are channelled back into supporting our members, so it was important that we let our members determine where the grants were allocated.”

“The level of member engagement with the grants exceeded our expectations,with over 890 member votes received. This was an incredible achievement andfurther highlights the importance our members place on supporting their local community.”

Following the success of the 2020 community grants, bcu are pleased toannounce the continuation of the community grants program, which will becomea quarterly initiative in 2021. In a tribute to the founding treasurer of bcu, Mr Neville Spear, the grants will be renamed the Neville Spear Community Grants.

Stephen Spear, son of Neville, said the Spear family was honoured by bcu’s decision to rename its community grants after their father.

“It is truly a perfect fit, as Neville and his wife Beatrice were passionate abouttheir local community,” Mr Spear said.

“This shone through in their volunteer work, commitment to organisations suchas the RSL, St Vincent de Paul, Banana Growers’ Federation, and, of course, through their work in establishing bcu alongside the bcu Scholarship namesake Bill Ussher.

“Neville’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, many still livinglocally, know he would have been delighted with this recognition. He was rightly proud of his role in developing one of the most highly regarded credit unions in Australia.

“The Spear family is appreciative that bcu continues to pay tribute to its roots within the community.”

Applications for the next round of community grants will open in the coming weeks. To nominate a community or not-for-profit group visit the bcu website.