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    SHOW OF SUPPORT: Lenda Newton is supporting young Horsham Fire Brigade firefighter Callum Taylor in the Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb in memory of her son Adrian Newton. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Lenda Newton's heartfelt donation for mental health

By Bronwyn Hastings

Lenda Newton has donated $1000 to Callum Taylor’s fundraising efforts for the annual Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climb, in memory of her son Adrian Newton, a firefighter, who was killed overseas.

Mr Newton left a legacy, not just with the people who knew and worked alongside him, but in the wider community. 

In 2016, he won funding for a mental health awareness fundraiser as part of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade’s 125th anniversary celebrations, which he put towards the beginnings of ‘Let Me Know’, a support service for emergency service workers and their families. 

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Following Mr Newton’s death, the committee continued to develop Let Me Know into an app and a website, supported by Beyond Blue and Phoenix Australia. 

Mr Newton received a commendation for this work in suicide prevention, which was awarded posthumously. 

He was also recognised for his actions at an entrapment incident that occurred on April 27, 2016.

In a letter dated May 10, 2016, MFB chief officer Peter Rau thanked Mr Newton for his contribution at the entrapment, noting his ‘leadership and decisiveness delivered life-saving interventions at this most extraordinary event… your actions have contributed to making the MFB world class’.

Mr Newton was killed in Bali on May 17, 2016 at the age of 42; the letter arrived while he was away.

Mrs Newton said her son did not say much about the incident.

“It was just a brief phone call because he was getting ready to go to Indonesia, he was excited about that,” she said.

“He said, ‘I’ve got to tell you this happened, but I think I’ll be right because I’ve got a great team around me’.”

Mr Newton told his mother ambulance officers were at the entrapment when firefighters arrived.

“No one was game to make a decision, the firies were trained in entrapment, so it was his call, that’s about all he said, he didn’t go into any details,” Mrs Newton said. “Adrian wouldn’t have known whether the person survived or not, his crew would have just handed it over and gotten on with the next job.”

Mr Newton worked in New York for a month as a firefighter, as well as spending a year in Canada on work exchange.

“He went to Vancouver, but that was too quiet for him, so he went to Whistler – he loved snowboarding, mountain bike riding, scuba diving and surfing,” Mrs Newton said.

“If he wasn’t busting a limb or something, it wasn’t fun – he liked adrenaline.”

Mr Newton’s life changed at the age of 16, when he found his career calling.

“He suddenly went from a kid who  was always in trouble, to someone who knew where he wanted to go,” Mrs Newton said.

“At 17 he took himself down to Melbourne, studied fire technology at university, and ultimately became a recruit instructor and station officer.”

Mr Newton spent three years as a volunteer with the Country Fire Authority in Horsham before working for the MFB for 19 years, stationed at West Melbourne, Carlton and South Melbourne fire stations.

“His last station was Richmond –photos of him are still on display,” Mrs Newton said.

Mr Newton participated in some of the first Melbourne Firefighter Stair Climbs, which continue to raise money and awareness for mental health for those in the emergency service and defence communities.

“I remember giving money to Adrian for his climbs, and when I saw Callum’s fundraising poster with the firefighting gear at the Horsham YMCA, I wanted to donate,” Mrs Newton said. 

“I spoke to Mark, the YMCA manager, because I didn’t know who Callum was.

“It turns out Callum has a friendly competition with his dad, Jason, to see who can raise the most money.

“Jason came home with $1000 from his workplace, Horsham Motor Company, and I thought I could match that.”

Callum Taylor, 21, has participated in the stair climb twice before.

“Callum is a lovely kid, he reminds me of Adrian at that age, so enthusiastic about firefighting, and after talking to him and getting to know him, I thought to myself, ‘I’ve done the right thing here’,” Mrs Newton said.

“My heart feels like it’s in a good place.”

Donations can be made to the Horsham CFA and State Emergency Service volunteers participating in the stair climb at

The entire June 19, 2024 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!