Rural aid raises miles of smiles

CLUBBING TOGETHER — Kyabram Croquet Club Treasurer Sue Agosta (centre) with Rural Aid volunteers Damien and Yvonne Harvey from Newcastle, Jenny Welsh from Canberra, Ash McIntyre from Newcastle, Graham Reardon from Canberra and Kim McIntyre, also from Newcastle.

YOU may be doing it tough, but you are not doing it alone.

That’s the message spread by more than 35 Rural Aid volunteers as they teamed up with Honda to give Kyabram a much-needed facelift during the past week.

Coming from around Australia the small army painted, gutted, cleaned and pruned their way into the hearts of those they helped.

By Friday of last week the Town Hall had been repainted and transformed, the showgrounds had a new kitchen and the croquet club was looking much younger than its almost 100-year age bracket suggests.

Shadow Business Secretary on Honda closure

Shadow Business Secretary comments on Honda’s closure.

Two local farmers were also helped out around their properties and with a delivery of feed.

At the Fauna Park overgrown tree branches were cut down and fences put up.

Not even the cemetery escaped the kindness of the Rural Aid army, receiving some TLC and much appreciated maintenance.

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And Rural Aid couldn’t have come at a better time with local farmers struggling against the protracted dry and soaring temporary water prices.

Showgrounds committee secretary Janelle McDonald said it was the “best thing that had happened to Kyabram in a long time’’.

“They’ve had me in tears a few times this week, to be honest. They’ve just gone above and beyond, nothing was too hard for them. It’s such a morale boost, all I can say is – just wow,” she said.

Croquet club treasurer Sue Agosta agreed.

“It’s just an absolutely huge boost to the club. We are turning 100 in a few years and this has just given the building such a facelift,” she said.

Volunteer Damien Harvey from Newcastle worked on the club revamp and said he wanted people in regional communities to feel the support of those living in metro areas.

“I want them to know some people in the cities really do care and that we will do what we can to support them,” he said.

It was a message echoed throughout the volunteer group.

“How many jobs are totally dependent on the weather? Not many. But our farmers are totally at the mercy of the season,” volunteer Marg Hancocks said.

“If the farmers suffer, the communities suffer, and we’re here to help in any way we can.”

Town Hall committee secretary Anne Churches said the painting of the hall would have a lasting and significant impact.

“It’s wonderful. We were particularly interested in presenting the hall in it’s best light for the Victorian CWA meeting here in August, and now we can be really proud of what we offer. The new coat of white paint is a great thing for our exhibitions too,” she said.

Long-term Rural Aid volunteers Neil and Allison Elliot, who helped get the hall up to scratch and said it was important for Australians to recognise the significance of agricultural communities.

“We like to say that you need a farmer three times a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Without farmers we have no food. Helping our farming communities is the right thing to do, and we believe in paying it forward,” they said.

Rosey Bartlett from Old Bar and her husband Lee quit their jobs last year in order to work on Rural Aid projects full time.

She described the week spent getting to know the Kyabram community as one of hope.

“Kyabram has absolutely been so inspiring. This whole community is so warm and full of hope, it’s been really amazing,” she said.

The Rural Aid team also joined the Gift Of Music program to donate two classroom sets of instruments to Kyabram P-12 College.

Then organised a performance from the Australian Army band, which entertained at schools across the immediate region and put on a free community concert.

Kyabram P-12 College Performing Arts teacher Sue Meeking said she was overwhelmed by their support and described the band performance as a “big party’’.

“We are so thrilled to have their support. It gives us the chance to introduce every child to music. We’ve already started running classes with the instruments – the students just love them,” she said.

Fauna Park manager Lachlan Gordon said the work volunteers did during the week was incredibly valuable and called on locals to help continue the improvements.

“Volunteers have always been an important part of the Fauna Park. We’ll be opening up our volunteer program again soon and seeking more local people to sign on,” he added.

Source: Kyabram Free Press