Nick Fry, Braidwood Community Bank Manager

"The Black Summer bushfires that took place 12 months ago still remain a vivid personal and emotional memory in our people’s lives.

The Braidwood Community Bank has a passion; a passion for each staff member, a passion for our community and a passion to ensure our existing and potential customers have the confidence that we can offer and fulfill their financial needs. Our ‘team’ passion shone through during our period of disaster.

Scott was basically not seen throughout the fires, but would come into the branch when he could to provide updates. If not, we would all receive text messages. There were staff who spent countless hours in the RFS shed making thousands of sandwiches for the volunteers when they came back exhausted and always giving them words of encouragement.

In between all of this, most of the staff had evacuation procedures in place with some being told to ‘get out’. What the branch also did was to try and remain open, not only for banking services but also as a point where people could come for support, updates, or a shoulder to lean or cry on. We are the most important and most trusted business in our community ,and we couldn’t let our people down.

But the Community Bank had support as well from the Bendigo Bank group. Each day I would receive telephone calls, not emails, from a variety of representatives such as regional managers, state managers, and executives. There is even a Bendigo & Adelaide Board Member that resides in Canberra who made it a point to come and ‘check in’ on us. We shared many tears.

Another important point to realise is that we were not the only local district affected by the fires. They were everywhere and Bendigo Bank made a point or contacting every branch that was affected. They also supported my decision when it was time to close due to staff shortages. After the fires were extinguished, we had many visits from Bendigo Bank staff to check in with us and give us support. I would make it a point to take them to the Braidwood Blaze Aid Camp to see the power of our donations in action.

The old saying that adversity brings us closer together could not be more truthful. We are closer as a branch, closer as a community and close to our Bendigo Bank colleagues."