Liverpool Range Harness Club prepares for charity ride for Royal Far West

THE region is preparing for an annual sulky ride that raises money and awareness for a charity that helps bush kids.

The Liverpool Range Harness Club (LRHC) will run its eighth annual Charity Harness Drive in aid of the Royal Far West, Quirindi Branch, from Friday.

The event started as a chance for members of LRHC to give back to The Royal Far West – a charity that had helped many of the club’s members’ friends and family over the past years.

To date, LRHC has donated more than $80,000 towards the charity.

The club has been involved with Royal Far West because it knows that all of the money raised goes back to children within the Quirindi, Liverpool Range and Tamworth areas.

Royal Far West charity has proven that every dollar is utilised in care for kids, and no percentage is used to fund administration or expensive offices.

The charity drive this year will travel the quiet country roads around Manilla and Somerton.

With camping at Manilla Showground from Friday, September 15 until Tuesday, September 19, before moving camp onto Trelawney Station at Somerton to finish on Sunday, September 24.

Trelawney Station is owned by the Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council, who have kindly donated use of their facilities and access to the station in aid of the cause.

To date, 35 sulkies have registered to participate. A percentage of their entry goes direct to RFS, along with money raised from raffles and donations from sponsors.

The event is a great opportunity for pleasure harness driving enthusiasts both local and interstate to travel down new roads and experience some of the lovely countryside of that area.

Clover leaf trips varying from 25km to 40km each day are travelled as a group, culminating in close 250km for the week.

The entourage of horses and sulkies moving along are reminiscent of a bygone time. Many are heritage vehicles restored, pulled along by various breeds.

The Royal Far West is a charity that provides specialist medical care and allied health support services for children from remote areas of the state.

The charity’s home, based in Manly, is considered a “one-stop shop” for kids living in rural and remote regions to seek a range of services in one location.

GRATEFUL: Tamworth woman Denise Griffith is thankful for the work of Royal Far West, having visited the place as a child. Photo: Peter Hardin

GRATEFUL: Tamworth woman Denise Griffith is thankful for the work of Royal Far West, having visited the place as a child. Photo: Peter Hardin

Bush kids’ one-stop service

A TAMWORTH woman has opened up on her time at a life-changing facility to raise the profile of the charity’s work for children in the bush.

The Royal Far West is a charity that provides specialist medical care and allied health support services for children from remote areas of the state.

The charity’s home, based in Manly, is considered a “one-stop shop” for kids living in rural and remote regions to seek a range of services in one location.

Denise Griffith – among the 3000 children Royal Far West helps every year – had just started school in Newcastle when she was one of three kids diagnosed with polio at the age of six.

She was paralysed completely and told she may never walk again.

Mrs Griffith’s father died around the time she was diagnosed, and her sister was born just six weeks later, so their mother relocated the family to Wauchope to be closer to her relatives.

It was in Wauchope that their family doctor, Dr Norman Drummond, referred Mrs Griffith to the Royal Far West home in Manly to undergo operations to treat the polio.

It was Dr Drummond’s uncle, Reverend Stanley Drummond, who founded Royal Far West, when he took 58 children from Bourke, Brewarrina,  Cobar and Wilcannia to their first camp in 1925.

Mrs Griffith was just nine-years-old when she was put on a train to Sydney with a sister from the home to undergo operations “not really knowing when I was going to see my mum and sister again”.

After operations on both her legs, she remained in plaster for several months in the home.

She returned home, and then was back at Royal Far West for a further operation on one of her legs in 1969.

Mrs Griffith, who had to learn to walk all over again, has much to thank the charity for.

“When I had polio, the doctors in Newcastle told me I’d be in a wheelchair forever,” she said.

“I do wonder at times (if it weren’t for Royal North West).

“I certainly wouldn’t be as mobile as I am. There’s a lot of children who use it. They wouldn’t benefit without having that experience that’s given to them.”

Royal Far West also has a strong relationship with the Gunnedah community, working closely alongside St Xavier’s School.

“In country areas, it’s hard to access services all at once,” St Xavier’s student support teacher Julie van Dorst said.

“A child with complex needs might need more than just speech therapy or see a pediatrician, but you can refer to Royal Far West and it’s a one-stop shop. While there, they’re in school in between seeing specialists. It’s a marvellous service.”