Drought help arrives in convoy; 450 crates unloaded | The Big Dry

RELIEF: Salvation Army captains Nathan Hodges and Rhonda Clutterbunk flank Newy Farmers Aid Group founder Michael Daley. 060181CMA02

RELIEF: Salvation Army captains Nathan Hodges and Rhonda Clutterbunk flank Newy Farmers Aid Group founder Michael Daley. 060181CMA02

THE drought might not be an officially declared natural disaster, but one Tamworth location certainly resembled a relief centre filled with aid workers today. 

Volunteers marched back and forth in the rain, unloading a convoy of cars and trailers of 450 milk crates packed with food, water and more to help farmers survive.

The delivery was from a farmer aid drive in Newcastle, and the goods were being sorted and packed at the Goonoo Goonoo Road Salvation Army headquarters. 

Hampers will be distributed to attendees at farmers’ forums to be held across the region from tomorrow.

Newy Farmers Aid Group founder Michael Daley said he started the group out of a “need to raise awareness” but his city’s businesses and residents had overwhelmed him with their support.

Twenty-eight outlets had given him an immediate “yes”, he said; hundreds of people had donated items and written letters and cards of support for our region’s farming families.

“When I first started this, I was more than happy to just put $1000 worth of food in my trailer and bring it up here, but it’s just gone ballistic,” he said.

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He and other volunteers had already brought up several trailer-loads’ worth of goods yesterday and one day last week, and plan another delivery later this week.

Salvation Army captain Rhonda Clutterbuck said it was “beyond generous”.

“For some people, they’re sacrificing – they gave up something so that others could have,” she said.

“We had two carloads of items from Timbumburi Public School this morning – they’re farmers’ kids, and they still wanted to help.”

More flowing in

But the help from this group is just one aspect of the support that’s inundating the region.

At the weekend’s rugby gala day in Tamworth, Maitland players brought with them hundreds of dollars’ worth of groceries.

They also brought several thousands of dollars raised back home, and ran a raffle at the Longyard Hotel on the Saturday night.

Along with $500 from the Tamworth Rugby Carnival Committee, it all came to about $9000 for Buy A Bale and R U Aware We Care.

Committee vice-president Daryl Martin said one gala aim had been to build connections between the different cities’ teams, so the Maitland cohort “thought it would be a nice gesture to raise as much as they could for the plight”.

“It was absolutely wonderful,” he said.

Hit for six

Also in the sporting world, there will be a family fun day on Wednesday, organised by cricketing body Sydney Sixers.

To be held in support of R U Aware We Care, it will be held at No. 1 Oval in Tamworth from 3pm to 6pm.

Sydney Sixer players Alyssa Healy and Tahlia Wilson – who are in the region this week promoting cricket within schools – will be there.

“They will be promoting awareness of the R U Aware We Care campaign and also cricket as a whole,” Cricket NSW northern inalnd development manager Vinnie Cameron said.

He said there would be an inflatable slide; face-painting; sausage sizzle; and some games such as a six-hitting competition, for children and adults.

“We’ll have the oval set up in different areas, with games of cricket around that in a social, relaxed format.”

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