The Garrett Family and their amazing spirit of charity

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Teesh Wright describes the amazing spirit of charity our community summons when it comes to helping those affected by tragedy. We learn more about the Garrett Family Appeal …

Tell us about the tragedy that happened to Patty Garrett?

Patty and his father, Steve, were heading home after work on 1 November 2012, when he was struck in the head by a rock through his car windscreen, which was thrown from an oncoming vehicle.

At the same time, New England Police and highway patrol officers were pursuing an allegedly stolen vehicle along the Guyra-Ebor Rd.

Police allege the occupants of the vehicle, four men and a woman from Queensland, threw rocks at oncoming traffic in a bid to force the Police to cease pursuit. The case went to court again on 21 January 2013.

Patty was seriously injured as a result of the incident. He had to be airlifted to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital due to his critical condition and extensive head injuries.

He underwent major surgery, which included removing fifteen bone fragments from his brain and was then placed in a medically induced coma. He was later transferred from ICU into the Neurology ward and then several weeks later, once his condition improved, he was moved to Tamworth Base Hospital for rehabilitation.

Is Patty recovering well?

The month leading into Christmas was probably the hardest time in the Garrett family’s life; however, they sat, as a family, by Patty’s bedside for weeks on end, not leaving his side. Medical staff believes this contributed significantly to the extent of Patty’s recovery. Needless to say, the Garrett’s were ‘stoked’ when they were told he’d be home for Christmas.

Patty’s in good spirits and will resume rehabilitation in January.

How did the Garrett Family Appeal come to fruition?

It was a community initiative. Local tradies, businesses and friends all came together the moment they heard about Patty’s horrific encounter. A formal appeal was established, thanks to the support of the Guyra Rotary Club, who allowed the appeal to run through their organisation. Sadly, gone are the days of placing a tin on the counter. Guyra New England Mutual also ensured an appeal account was set up promptly, offering people a convenient way to give from the privacy of their home or office.

Describe the mountain bike ride …

We finished the appeal on a fabulous note, with Greig Stier’s initiative for a mountain bike ride from Armidale to Guyra. This was a morning we’ll never forget, with over 70+ riders taking part from Armidale (including riders from Walcha and elsewhere – thank you!) and walkers setting the pace at the crack of dawn … not to mention all those who joined in from the Black Mountain village. Children even got involved, with the youngest rider being 6 years of age. It seemed age was no limit when it came to support.

The ride ran smoothly and safely thanks to the wonderful involvement of the Police and the VRA. Everyone was able to enjoy breakfast on the house at the finish line, which seemed to breed further generosity amongst the crowd. It was humbling and emotional to be a part of, resulting in several items being donated and auctioned, raffles being sold out, and concluding in an astonishing $7,000 raised.

Who were the standout supporters and why?

Everyone who ‘gave’ stood out in our eyes. It is always amazing who gives.

We had people driving past during the mountain bike ride, asking what was going on, and when they were told the cause, they handed over yellow notes. Complete strangers, who had never met the Garrett family, felt the desire to give. We had a person who gave a handful of coins, which was probably more than they had to give, and yet they gave because they felt more fortunate than Patty that day.

Ladies baked and baked and baked hundreds of cupcakes. Grandparents and children were enchanted by the restored dollhouse and kept buying ticket after ticket, in the hopes they might win the raffle.

Hundreds and hundreds of New Englanders tried to prepare early for our cold winters by buying large quantities of the tickets in the wood raffle. Even the cyclists of our community got in the spirit and rode both ways from Guyra to Armidale for the mountain bike ride.

Media continued to contact us throughout the Garrett Family Appeal, offering support and coverage to ensure the success of Patty’s appeal. They seemed to admire our community and its tireless ability to pull together to make a difference; in this case, to a family who were struck by an unfathomable act.

Local businesses from both Guyra and Armidale gave extensive time and services, as well as goods, which we were able to auction or raffle. The kindness seemed to be contagious, and we thank you all for catching it.

Each and every person who took a moment to ‘give’ something of themselves stood out. It was humbling to witness such thoughtfulness and consideration of another human being – particularly in light of what had happened to Patty.

People’s willingness to give undoubtedly restored hope, not only to the Garrett family, but to the wider community.

 Tell us about the Guyra Rotary Carnival Patty Cake Drive?

The ‘patty cake’ stall at the Guyra Rotary Carnival was one of our fundraisers. I have never seen so many patty cakes in my life. I seriously thought we’d be taking home dozens of leftover cakes from that day. The community could clearly bake, and they hadn’t let us down. Some 1,800 cupcakes arrived at the stall that morning. That’s nearly one cupcake per person in Guyra; however, not one cupcake was left unwanted. I was fascinated by this; I now understand the phrase ‘selling like hot cakes’. Congratulations bakers and buyers!

How much money did you raise, and how will it be spent?

The New England and wider community have been responsible for approximately $30K being raised, in as little as 8 weeks. The purpose of the appeal was to offer support for Patty’s rehabilitation, and the funds will contribute to expenses of that nature.

Final words?

The spirit to participate and support from this community is extraordinary. Please, may we extend our thanks to everyone who took part in ‘giving’ to the Garrett Family Appeal. Whether you gave funds, time, goods, services, love or simply ate cupcakes; it all counted, and it all helped.

Thanks Teesh.

This article was published in issue 69 of New England Focus

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