Rotary provides drought and bushfire relief for traumatised Northern Tablelands farmers and business

TEAM EFFORT: Armidale Rotary Club president Grant Harris and Armidale Rotary AM president Sam Doyle have seen their clubs raise $60,000 for those facing hardship.
TEAM EFFORT: Armidale Rotary Club president Grant Harris and Armidale Rotary AM president Sam Doyle have seen their clubs raise $60,000 for those facing hardship.

Determined to lend a hand with the drought, Armidale Rotary was gearing when the Bees Nest bushfire flared up to add to the mayhem.

It then became the problem of drought affected farmers being traumatised by the bushfires, however $60,000 raised by the Armidale Rotary Club and Armidale Rotary AM brought timely relief.

Armidale Rotary Club president of the Grant Harris said it started when he received some information about particular grants being backed by Dick Smith.

"The grant comes out of the Rotary Australia World Community Service branch of Rotary," he said.

"Underneath that banner, there are the compassionate grants, and this is one of those."

Grant said Dick Smith put up $1 million to match anything Rotary raised under those grants for people in need, and the grants had very broad-based eligibility criteria.

"Now, we reckoned there's a communal group of people out there, on the eastern side of the tablelands, who are in need," he said.

"So, my club put up a case and got the tick of approval. We went for the maximum amount available, that's $15,000 and Dick Smith matched it with $15,000.

"We were able to buy $30,000 worth of vouchers from agricultural companies, and feed them to the rural financial councillor. She choose their destinations because she knew who was in the most need."

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He said the kickback bonus was that all the companies were locally owned businesses.

Grant said the project was highly popular and a great success.

"People were responding to it very positively," he said.

"As soon as they saw the description of the project, we got donations through the website, from individuals, through our clubs, through other Rotary clubs, the Central Rotary club was fantastic in the beginning.

"We got to the point where I saw Sam and said 'Hey, I can't do another one, it's a maximum of one to a club, can we use your name?"

President of Armidale Rotary AM Sam Doyle said his club also raised $15,000 to make up another $30,000 to keep the project going.

"I put ours out as the Armidale and Northern Tablelands region bushfire disaster relief," Sam said.

"So it was a bit broader than Grant's, but it is specifically targeting the bushfire victims in our local government area and up the Northern Tablelands area.

"The reason I did that was because Adam Marshall has repeatedly said the Northern Tablelands is the worst affected by this worst drought on living recorded."

Sam said they had received donations from right around the country and overseas.

"My Rotary Club has a sister club at Masterton in New Zealand, and the president of that club has been in contact with me and put $2000 up," he said.

"The vouchers are important to not only keep the farmers going, but also to keep the businesses going too.

"We're also working on a third lot of $30,000 through the Armidale Rotaract Club."

The two said while they could not buy B-triples of fodder to deliver, they could provide immediate relief to show those experiencing hardship they were not forgotten.

This story Armidale Rotary clubs combine to provide drought and bushfire relief first appeared on The Armidale Express.