Community support tremendous

Until a few months ago a quick trip to the shops was anything but that for the Neville family of Thurgoona.

Because their seven-year-old daughter, Ruthie, has cerebral palsy, it was always an arduous task.

Ruthie loves being around people and so the last thing her mum and dad, Zoe and Stephen, would want to do is leave her at home.

But the logistics of it all were brutally straightforward. Ruthie’s wheelchair had to be pulled apart to be put in the boot, then the bright little girl would need to be lifted into the car.

It was something, Mrs Neville readily recalls, that regularly hurt their backs.

Something just had to be done so the family bought a van, which was promptly given a $35,000 fit-out from the National Disability Insurance Scheme to meet Ruthie’s needs.

But the van was something the family couldn’t afford, as essential as it was for their particular way of life. With that Mr Neville’s parents stepped in to get the loan, as Ruthie’s parents – with the time they need to spend attending to their beloved daughter’s care – simply cannot work full-time.

It was out of that came a bright idea for a solution, one stemming from Mr Neville’s 20-year passion for drumming.

He thought a drumming marathon, in the centre of Albury, could be a way to raise the funds needed to pay for the van. His family backed him, but reckoned it might have been fanciful thinking when he estimated this might bring in up to $20,000.

A couple of weeks ago the drum-off began, in no small part thanks to the people of Blackline Music who organised everything from the stage to even massages for Mr Neville during his occasional breaks.

But it appeared no one was prepared for the generous spirit of the Border community. The families of Ruthie’s primary school friends got behind the fundraiser, as did strangers and business people.

Where some donated large sums, others dropped in a few coins. But what so heartened the Nevilles is that even the smallest donations were matched by equally meaningful pledges to be there for the family whenever they needed support.

The event turned out to be an outstanding success, raising $42,000 for the van and giving Ruthie great delight and pride in seeing her dear dad drumming away for her.

We congratulate all those who dug deep to help Ruthie.