CEO gives thanks one year on

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Statement by BiKBBI CEO Damian Walters:

I remember, as if it were yesterday, the day I stood in the office preparing to film a personal statement which was intended to reassure our members following the news of national lockdown.
As I stood in an empty office filming details of our contingency plans, I remember putting a brave face on, despite me feeling more alone than ever before.

Like all business leaders, I not only had the weight of this new global pandemic on my shoulders from a personal perspective, but I remember fearing the enormity of the potential outcomes for my staff, our members and the industry as a whole and for the first time in my life, feeling daunted, helpless and lost for words.

I felt that everything I had worked on over 13 years was about to crash – at a time when we were making a difference.

As the industry was instructed to lock down, I felt that as an institute, it was our responsibility to step up – and so we did. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The last year has, without doubt, tested us all in one way or another. We’ve all lost, have sacrificed and perhaps learned more about ourselves and those around us in the last twelve months, than ever before. My perspective has changed.

“In the fog of war, the character of man is exposed”. Unless you’ve seen war, I guess you would never really understand the true meaning of that, but in more ways than one, we have all faced a personal battle with this pandemic and have been fighting it for a year now.

From the staff on the front line NHS, the care workers, the emergency services, the bus drivers to the delivery drivers, supermarket staff, lorry drivers and takeaway chefs – in fact to anyone who has played a role throughout, we should all be eternally thankful. These people stood up as the bombs fell and they did so with great courage and sacrifice, much like those who fought with rifles in wars before.

To my staff, who with great fear left an office a year ago today, embarked on a year of isolation, home schooling and multi-tasking, never allowing standards to slip or service to waiver, I thank you. I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for what you’ve achieved for the organisation, our members and me. I’ll never forget that.

To our members, who have faced unreconcilable challenges. I thank you for your continued support and faith in our guidance. I thank you for the contribution you make to our economy and difference you make to the communities you serve. I have heard many stories of giving and what you have been doing over the last year and it just demonstrates to me how resilient and amazing our SME’s can be and how they can adapt and overcome challenge.

To our corporate sponsors and retail partners. You have continued to step up. Renewing membership and investing in us, when the easy option would be to stop. Without you, we would not be in a position to do what we do. Your support and generosity will go down in history and you have etched our coalition in our tapestry forever.

Future generations of installers who will soon embark on Apprenticeships in our industry, have you to thank for that.

Finally, to the many people who have sent me personal messages of thanks and support. The occasional text message, or comment of appreciation. You’ll never really understand how important those messages are / were. At a time when I felt more alone than ever, there was always a call, or a message that gave me hope that arrived when I needed it the most – and that helped me guide myself and the organisation through the dark times.

We will overcome this. It will not be without challenge. But we will and the sunshine of the 2021 Spring will soon enter all of our lives, providing that much needed boost of energy to springboard ourselves and our businesses to the success we all deserve.

Stay safe, let’s do this… we’re nearly there.

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