By now everyone is aware that Dave R has been burnt out in the bush fires in Cobargo and has lost everything. When contacted by the AFPFMA, Dave’s only request was for the loan of a caravan to use as temporary accommodation on his block on the outskirts of town so that he can look after his animals and keep an eye on his property (not that there is anything left for looters). He has three horses, three poddy calves, two alpacas, a few sheep and Steve U’s two donkeys.

Dave F  (who I will refer to as Stick from now on to avoid confusion with two Daves) quickly jumped in and offered his 23foot van to Dave for as long as he wanted it. As I had a 3kva generator sitting in my garage I also offered it to Dave as long as required. Stick let us know that as he had the van up for sale he had given the entire contents to Anglicare a matter of three weeks before. It was then time to call for donations from former members on Facebook to stock the van with just the necessities for Dave and Barb and family to live there temporarily.

The response was sensational and swift so I volunteered to be the collection point for donations. I had people offering donations which at this stage were way above the basics we needed to set up a caravan. I thank them for that and will probably get back to them further on in the recovery process. Over the last week a steady flow of donations continued to arrive at my house and my wife Jenny decreed that we had to sort them into some sort of order rather than dumping a jumble sale on Dave. As you would expect from ex coppers all the donations were of a practical nature.

Meanwhile Stick towed his van up from Victoria and parked it at Murumbateman Exhibition Grounds while we waited for word that the roads were open so we could deliver it. This is one of a couple side stories regarding the kindness of complete strangers. A council Ranger approached Stick with the usual questions about what he was doing leaving the van there etc. Stick told him the story and he said that he would keep an eye on the van. On Monday 7am Stick went to hook up the van and he saw a pile of “stuff” next to the van. His first reaction was that someone had dumped rubbish next to the van but, on closer inspection he found it was two large tents, two fold up tables, two camp chairs a small BBQ and a couple of other useful items which were either left by the Ranger of someone he had spoken to about our intentions. As Police we are accustomed to only seeing the bad in people so this was a refreshing change. 1st random act of kindness story.

Stick drives his Landcruiser to my house with van attached. Luckily Mick T and John R were there dropping off their last minute donations and were able to assist with the loading of both vehicles under the supervision of Jenny who kept saying that its not all going to fit. We managed to prover her wrong but were hoping that no-one wanted to put us over a weigh bridge on the way. We set off about 10.30am with the first stop being Cooma for fuel top up as there was no fuel at the coast. 2nd kindness story. 5 Landcruisers full of NSWP Riot Squad pull up and fill their vehicles. Whilst waiting to pay Stick as a nosey ex cop asks them where they are going etc and them being nosey real cops ask him the same. The Indian guy behind the counter overhears what Stick has to say and when he comes to pay the attendant gives him a $10 discount off his $70 fuel purchase for “doing a good thing” 2nd miracle for the day.

As we hit the Brown mountain it starts to rain and in places the visibility due to the smoke was down to about 3 car lengths. Not good in a “slightly overloaded” vehicle and to make matters worse the roads were covered in a film of ash and were like glass. A couple of tense moments with van wheels locking up and then van and vehicles wheels locking up at a major T intersection. Some skillful driving by the old ex Traffic member Stick got us through and we met Dave at his place just as it started to rain heavily. We had both seen photos of the destruction of Dave’s property on Facebook but nothing could prepare us for the utter devastation of the house, vehicles and numerous sheds that we saw as we drove in. There was absolutely nothing left. I was at a loss to imagine how Dave and his family must feel.

We didn’t unpack anything due to the heavy rain and Stick had to give Dave a run down on the operation of the van, toilet, gas, 12volt operation, 240 volt operation, connecting solar panels, operating inverter, setting up annex etc etc. Even though Dave bought along a mate, Dave no 3 I could see their heads spinning by the end of the “handover”. We then went to Dave’s mates house and unloaded the ute in his garage. We had a quick chat with Dave as a welfare check and we could see that he had brightened up considerably compared with how he was on our arrival. Even though he hadn’t opened any of the donations he kept repeating how much he appreciated everyone’s concern and the fact that people had donated such a large amount of goods to help him out. Some of his mates from the local RFS turned up for a chat so we took our leave to head home. After a lot easier drive we arrived home about 7-30pm.

I think most people who donated to this worthy cause would be happy to remain anonymous but I believe they should be named and publicly thanked for coming to the aid of a brother in a time of great need. Stick and I subscribe to the theory that we are only doing what we think others would do for us in a similar situation.

Donors are -Karen L, Sher Y, Rod C (Juggy), Dave and Fiona T, Al S, Branches B, Bob C, John R, Bob M, Mel B, Mick and Michelle T and Phil S.

Please accept Dave’s eternal gratitude and mine and Stick’s personal thanks for your kind donations and your even kinder thoughts. I wish to pass on my personal thanks to Dave F (Stick) for his exceptional generosity, his lets get it done attitude and all the old memories we shared during yesterdays drive to the coast and back.

Just had a call from Dave to again pass on his thanks to everyone. He has been busy setting up the annex on his new home and as usual helping out others who probably aren’t in as dire situation as he is.

I hope you don’t find my ramblings too boring but I thought this would be the best way to get the story out there.

Trevor Coutts

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