"Wingarra" beef farmers Cynthia and Jamie McDonald have been at the centre of drought relief efforts across the Southern Downs. Marian Faa

Veterans called to help farmers in cruel battle with drought

WAR veterans from around the Southern Downs will drive an urgent drought relief operation to deliver precious water to rural families that are facing a cruel battle with drought.

The Warwick Warrior Woodcutters and Southern Downs Ex-Services Association have pledged to raise $800 that will fuel water deliveries to the Karara and Leyburn region next month.

The urgent call to arms came on Saturday.

Drought assistance co-ordinator and former army major Cynthia McDonald said there was increasing desperation for water among rural families.

"Three weeks ago we did a water drop and my phone didn't stop ringing with the amount of people that needed water,” she said.

"I actually had to turn families away last time because we could not do enough deliveries.

"We know there is a massive need out there.”

The water will come as a last resort for families who are struggling with basic needs like drinking and washing.

BIG DONATION: QCWA Volunteers Joyce Fearby and Michele Slater gratefully accepted a $600 donation to the Queensland drought appeal from SDESA president Ken Ashton in 2018.
BIG DONATION: QCWA Volunteers Joyce Fearby and Michele Slater gratefully accepted a $600 donation to the Queensland drought appeal from SDESA president Ken Ashton in 2018. Marian Faa

"We are focusing on the human face of drought. This water is going straight to people's homes,” she said.

Ms McDonald has been spearheading drought relief activities around the region in conjunction with the Southern Downs Regional Council and other organisations.

Last month she helped deliver water to a mother and her five children on a rural property 30km out of Warwick.

"To be that far out with so many children and only one foot of water left, when you see situations like that it is really concerning,” Ms McDonald said.

She said she hoped the next water drop would reach more families in need.

Over a weekend in March, Ms McDonald and WWW members plan to co-ordinate water deliveries to 16 different properties in the region.

John Telfer,Ted Hawken and Johnno Felton from Warwick Warriors Woodcutters.
John Telfer,Ted Hawken and Johnno Felton from Warwick Warriors Woodcutters. Paige Ashby

"Veterans understand what it is to struggle and they can empathise with the farmers,” Mrs McDonald said.

Rural Aid will supply 368,000 litres and Steve Walters from Brisbane has generously agreed to donate his truck.

Warwick Warrior Woodcutters president Johnno Felton said the relief effort would be called "Operation Duty First” as a nod to the sense of loyalty the veterans were showing to their community.

SDESA president Ken Ashton said his organisation would announce fundraising activities in the coming weeks and would be raffling a generous trailer of wood provided by WWW.

To make a donation phone SDSEA on (07)46615099.



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