ON Saturday, Glenray Industries’ staff were completely shattered to see the building they’ve called home for 20 years completely destroyed by fire.
They had no idea how they would recovered after such a tragedy, but within 48 hours an unsuspected lifeline has given them the means to pick up the pieces and move on.
Bishop Michael McKenna of the Catholic Diocese of Bathurst heard about the fire on Saturday and, despite being out of town at the time, asked the financial administrator of the diocese, Patrick Cooper. to visit Glenray.
When he arrived Mr Cooper found Glenray CEO Susan Williams and laundry manager Ian Miles and offered them the use of the former St Catherine’s Nursing Home facility in Busby Street, which has a commercial laundry.
The Cathedral Parish of Bathurst obtained the use of the former St Catherine’s facility late last year.
The the parish operates and maintains the building on a leased arrangement with Catholic Healthcare.
“Mary MacKillop taught us ‘Never see a need without doing something about it’. We are grateful to God that we have this facility to help Glenray in this moment of need,” Bishop McKenna said.
“‘When taking on the St Catherine’s building, we did so with the aim to provide services to assist people with a variety of needs, including crisis accommodation, as is the case with Glenray Industries.”
Ms Williams said the offer, along with support from Glenray’s board and the community, has meant every staff member retained their job and Glenray’s clients can still have linen processed.
“Glenray is an extremely strong and stoic organisation, very resilient, and we have an amazing team that works together and it could have never happened in 48 hours without the strength of this team,” she said.
“We see ourselves as a phoenix rising from the ashes today.”
Glenray’s staff were at the former St Catherine’s facility on Monday to prepare it for their operations.
Fortunately, most of the linen Glenray processes was in the hands of clients at the time of the fire and very little was lost.
Ms Williams expressed her thanks to all the emergency services who attended the blaze, saying they may not have been able to save the building, but they did prevent any damage to neighbouring properties.
“I can’t thank them enough. They came from all over,” she said.
She said normal operations should resume from the new location by Tuesday afternoon.
Glenray can still be contacted on 6331 2388 or through its website.
How Glenray Industries reacted in the wake of the fire
Emergency services were called to Glenray Industries, on the corner of Browning Street and the Mid Western Highway, at around 12am on Saturday morning.
Ms Williams said information about the fire came through phone calls from staff, who were the first point of security on site.
After the fire was under control, Glenray faced the difficult task of contacting its clients to let them know what had happened and help them find alternate arrangements for their linen.
“We’re a linen hire service, so we supply all of the sheets and linen to hotels and motels right across the Central West,” Ms Williams said.
“We have five trucks on the road every day, five days a week.
“In the space of 48 hours over the weekend we managed to partner with other laundries to have all of our customers receiving their linen from Tuesday.”
Glenray employs 50 people, 35 of which are supported employees with a disability.
In the hours following the tragedy, staff and their families were reeling from the loss of the building and concerned that they would lose their jobs on top of everything.
Ms Williams said being given the use of the former St Catherine’s Nursing Home facility has kept them all in a job and made the tragedy easier to accept.
“We all started [Monday] morning with a bacon and egg barbecue and a rally, and all that [the staff] wanted to know was they had somewhere to go,” she said.
“To be able to tell them ‘Don’t worry, you have a job’, that has been the most rewarding thing for me.”
Where to from here?
Glenray Industries board members will meet in the coming weeks to discuss the future of the Browning Street site.
At this time, police and Fire and Rescue NSW are still conducting their investigations into the cause of the fire.
“The site is still under investigation and there is no access to that building until that is complete,” Ms Williams said.