Dear Friends & Colleagues,
As you will no doubt be aware, Australia is in the midst of suffering from the worst bushfire season in recorded history. Dozens of people have lost their lives, hundreds are now homeless, and an almost immeasurable amount of Australian animals of all types have perished.
In this time of extreme need I would like to highlight to you a group of people who truly are unsung heroes; they are the thousands of volunteer firefighters who make up the Australian Country Fire Authority (CFA). These people volunteer to leave their families and jobs when their communities need defending each summer from the fires. As this year has been particularly brutal, their stamina and resources have been stretched incredibly thin.
I wish to help these volunteers, and I am asking for your generosity to help me in this effort.
But first let me tell you a story. Bushfires are very personal to me and my family. It began in January 1944...
It is summer and blisteringly hot in Australia, the men are away fighting the war. My grandmother, Jean Luckock, is left not only running the family farm with the help of a number of other women, but also looking after three young children including my father who is just three weeks old.
Bushfires rage across South-Eastern Australia, and one of the largest engulfs her farm. She and 13 others, mostly children, get into one of the few working vehicles and drive a very dangerous seven miles to the nearest lake where they wade into the water and watch the fire destroy everything in its path. Late in the day, after the fire has passed, she and the children return to the farm to find everything destroyed: no home, no food, no clothing, no photographs…nothing is left. From that day onwards, life will forever either be "before the fire" or “after the fire”. Everything changed.
Word is sent to my grandfather who returns from the battlefield. He has contracted malaria and dysentery and, in the words on his military discharge papers, is suffering from “anxiety”. Today we know this as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Together, my grandparents embark on the long and torturous road to rebuild our family’s life in rural Victoria. It takes decades for normal life to resume.
Barwon Heads Country Fire Authority:
We now fast forward to the current day tragedy that is sweeping across Australia and the work of the many CFA organisations, whose resources are stretched to the absolute limit and are in urgent need of funding. Whilst it is true that the Australian government helps fund these organisations, private donations play an equally important role in helping them acquire both vital and incremental equipment that keeps both them and their communities safe.
Whilst we hope to help many CFA organisations, we will begin with the Barwon Heads CFA which is particularly close to my heart. Barwon Heads is where my parents, both previously volunteer CFA firefighters, have retired to. As some of you may recall, we have raised funds in the past with their help to buy equipment for their local CFA.
Like our family farm in 1944, the Barwon Heads CFA is run by a strong woman - Helen Wood. We have been in touch with Helen and her CFA desperately requires a support, command and control vehicle. To this end, I have committed to her that we will get her this vehicle as a bare-minimum. This vehicle will cost $85k AUD (circa $60k USD) as a guide.
Our goal however, depending on how much we raise, is to buy several CFA branches much needed equipment that they select based on their specific needs.
How you can help:
So how can you help?…. sadly as always it comes down to money. I am asking you, your friends, colleagues and any other associates to donate to the below link and would be thrilled if you could forward this email on to anyone else that you know who may wish to help us.
My family and I will provide full and total transparency as to the use of these funds in Australia. Every penny of which will go towards buying Australian volunteer firefighters equipment.
I thank you all in advance for your generosity.
Ben Luckock and family
PLEASE FORWARD THIS CAMPAIGN TO ANYONE YOU FEEL MAY WISH TO HELP US!