Staff from Binna Burra Lodge who carried out the orderly evacuation of all guests and staff from the lodge and campground before the devasting bushfires on 8 September 2019 have been recognised with the annual ‘Marjorie Groom Award’.
The Award recognises exceptional service to guests at the Lodge. It reflects on the positive attitude of staff members and their professional application to their tasks at Binna Burra Lodge.
The award which is usually awarded to a single person, was this year awarded to the small group of staff who carried out the successful evacuation.
This year, the most exceptional service was the way the management and staff prepared for and made the decision to evacuate all guests and staff on Friday afternoon, 6 September 2019 as the large bushfire moved towards Binna Burra. Some three hours after all departed, the single access road into the lodge was cut from falling rocks and trees.
‘If the voluntary evacuation was left just a few hours longer, hundreds of people would have been trapped in a life threatening situation’ explained Steve Noakes, Chair of the Board of Directors of Binna Burra Lodge. ‘We can all be extremely thankful for the preparation, wise decision making and orderly evacuation from the Lodge and camp ground on that day when we were at about 95% occupancy level’
Started in 1998, the annual award is named after Marjorie Groom, the mother of Don, Tony and Richard whose father was Arthur Groom, the co-founder of Binna Burra Lodge in 1933. Arthur passed away in 1953. In 1960, Marjorie and Tony, returned to Binna Burra on short notice to (as Richard Groom says) ‘… pick up the pieces of the shattered business’.
Richard explained: ‘She was a wonderful hostess, without being gushing … she slowed down time, with a welcoming cuppa … before escorting new guests to their room … in a time when rooms were tiny, but spotless, and often decorated with a sprig of native bloom on the wooden dresser … I reckon she never realised what a charmer she was! I told her once or twice, but I am not sure she believed me … mothers do that.’
Back in 2007, Tony Groom said: ‘Binna Burra is more than a lifetime commitment. It is a feeling … a spirit … a way of life. It is also a sum of all those who have worked here or stayed as a guest. My hope is that an unchanged Binna Burra, the place and the spirit, will outlive me and my children’s children’.
Board Chairman, Steve Noakes said: ‘The devasting bushfire of September 2019 will result in a change of the traditional Binna Burra experience because the core heritage lodge and cabins were destroyed. But our commitment is to ensure the special spirit of Binna Burra will continue across future generations. The spirit of Binna Burra is dependant on the remarkable commitment and passion for this special natural place by our staff. That is the responsibility of this current generation of leadership and ownership of Binna Burra Lodge.’
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Special note: The original Marjorie Groom Award was destroyed in the 8 September 2019 bushfires. With the generous support of long term Binna Burra shareholder, Heather Pearce and her family, a replica was created in time for the AGM of Binna Burra Lodge held on 17 November 2019.
Photo: Annual General Meeting of Binna Burra Lodge, Sunday 17 November 2019 – Providence Farm Hall, Beechmont, Queensland, Australia
Photo: On behalf of all the staff present for the pre bushfire evacuation on Friday 6 September 2019 at Binna Burra Lodge, Leighton Pitcher, Louanne Byrnes, Scott Parker and Ian Pritchard receive the ‘Marjorie Groom Award’ for exceptional staff from Marjorie’s son and former Chairman of the Board at Binna Burra, Tony Groom.