Pay rise used to support Batlow

Anne Wilkinson’s cheque of $15,000 was presented to the Batlow RFS Brigade on her behalf by her brother John earlier this month.

When Batlow-raised Anne Wilkinson was promised a wage rise, she decided to barter with her employer, Cargo Transport Systems, for a higher amount, which she would then donate to the Batlow RFS.

Not only was her pay rise granted, but the company’s three directors – Scott Rossow, Richard Trotter and Alister Campbell – dollar-matched the amount to also be generously donated to the brigade.

The total of $15,000 was presented to the Batlow RFS Brigade earlier this month on Friday, June 19, by Mrs Wilkinson’s brother John and sister-in-law Margaret on her behalf, as well as Louise Halsey of the Tumut Foundation.

Mrs Wilkinson said the bartering process was “surprisingly easy.”

“It’s never easy actually asking for a pay rise, I don’t think anyone necessarily finds that very easy,” she said.

“I just thought it was a great opportunity to say hey, if you give me this, I’ll give it to the RFS. And they went well, I’ll tell you what, we’ll give you a pay rise but we’ll also give to the RFS.

“It was a real win win.”

Mrs Wilkinson said she was “blown away” by the response she received from her employers.

“I was pretty overwhelmed by the generosity, that was way above what I [expected].”

A week before Christmas last year, Mrs Wilkinson and her husband Noel were evacuated from their home in Hillier, South Australia due to a bushfire.

“I know how terrified I was at the prospect of losing my home, sheds and sheep here in South Australia, but it didn’t prepare me for the Dunns Road fire at my childhood home in Batlow,” she said, sharing that she experienced “a number of sleepless nights” being so far away from town and unable to help.

The Wilkinsons lost their family’s original homestead at Adamilla that was built by Mrs Wilkinson’s grandfather Gordon in the 1920’s.

The main house, cabin and machinery sheds were all saved by the Batlow and other regional RFS crews and neighbours. The main house is where John and Margaret Wilkinson live, their sons Jack and Liam being fourth generation on the property. 

“Without their efforts there is no doubt we would have lost it all,” Mrs Wilkinson said.

“Firies are incredibly brave and resilient and put themselves in the way to protect lives and property, sometimes at enormous cost to themselves and their families, and for that I am humbled and grateful.”

Mrs Wilkinson said the donation is given as a thank-you to the local brigade, “not only from Cargo Transport Systems, my amazingly supportive employer, but also from the Wilkinson family.”

Batlow RFS Brigade Captain Darryl Watkins said the donation is “greatly appreciated.”

“We’re looking at getting a new truck and there was a bit of a shortfall in money, so we’re going to put the money in for the new fire truck,” Mr Watkins said.