NRMA patrols volunteer to lend Walgett farmers a helping hand

By Rebecca Page on 20 February 2017
Three NRMA patrols will tomorrow hit the road from Sydney to lend drought-stricken farmers a helping hand in the Walgett shire, far north-western NSW.

The patrols, David Scott, Enzo Leto and Joe LaHoud, who are all from Sydney, will volunteer to assist farming families in need, using their professional mechanical skills.

This will be the second of three trips NRMA patrols take this summer to Walgett, which has only just experienced its first harvest season following four years of drought.

NRMA patrols and car servicing mechanics and apprentices have volunteered on more than 40 farms throughout Lightning Ridge and Walgett since 2014, as part of the Outback Links program.

Trip team leader David Scott, who patrols the north-west region in Sydney, said it was a part of the NRMA spirit to volunteer.

"They're in strife up there so they need a helping hand and being with the NRMA is all about helping people, especially a lot of our Members who are in the country," Mr Scott said.

"People in the country have their good times and their bad times, so we want to put some of our energy into helping them through those bad times."

Mr Scott, who has already been on six trips to help farming communities in Lightning Ridge, said the gratitude received from farmers could not be measured.

"Sometimes farmers are so busy they don't see other people for six weeks at a time so it's not just about fixing the big tractors and mechanical machinery, it can be sitting down and having a cuppa that can help," Mr Scott said.

"You might find out that someone who seems so happy and bigger than life is not doing well inside at all, and later that you've helped to make them feel better. That's why I keep going back."

Mr Scott has helped fix a windmill that prevented fresh water from reaching a farm house for more than two years, and has fixed a broken water heater that had meant a family hadn't had hot water for just as long.

"One farmer said it was so nice to have someone arrive who was giving rather than taking, and that it was nice to know someone cared," Mr Scott said.

"Since we've been visiting some of these areas we hear that the locals are dealing with the drought now as a community, not just on their own, which makes a big difference."

The three patrols will spend this week on a farm at Walgett. Other groups of NRMA staff volunteers will visit another Walgett farm in March, as well as properties in Cobar and Forbes later in the year.