The close-knit Woomargama community northeast of Albury is rallying again after another of its residents lost the entire contents of their home in a house fire last month.
It’s the second house fire the small community has suffered in recent times with another local couple also losing everything in July 2022.
Community members have organised a family fun day for this Sunday (20 August) as a fundraiser for Warren Mitchell, 85, known locally as Woomargama’s surrogate “pop” to many.
The retired policeman was left with just his wallet and car after fire destroyed the home he occupied in Fairbairn Road, Mountain Creek, on 28 July.
The event is being held at the Woomargama Hotel with an auction, raffle and children’s entertainment set to raise much needed funds to get Warren back on his feet.
It’s a fitting location for the event. Not only is the hotel the heart of the community it is one of Warren’s favourite places to visit, where he has become known as a staple.
“When we renovated the hotel we even included a new ‘member’s bar’ sign which was installed as a bit of fun at the table where Warren always sits,” said Meg Hollins, the hotel’s event organiser.
“This is a very strong community, and we are good at supporting each other in times of need,” she said.
“The aim of the day is to raise funds so that Warren will have everything he needs to move into his next home.
“We’ve already managed to buy him a new bed and a leather armchair which he will need wherever he goes.
“He has said his next move will be his last move so we thought a bed and a new ‘old man’ chair would be important items to have even if he had a temporary move in the short term.”
One of the fundraising organisers, Trish Shea, said Warren was currently house-sitting at a property in Woomargama and it was expected he’d be looking to set up his own home in the near future. Trish, along with Georgie Millard and Raelene Webb, have garnered an enormous amount of support from people near and far, and the auction items are flowing in.
“We are really pleased with the response so far.
“People are going to be able to bid for garden items, firewood, pet products and locally grown meat. The raffle will include items from Holbrook’s Hello Maude, Reiki Healing, Submarine Cafe and J&B’s Gourmet Cafe along with vouchers from Table Top Hair Salon and goodies from Tracey Swan’s Bodyshop at Home.
“There will also be live music, delicious food, a bouncy castle and horse and cart rides, it will be a great chance for those who come along to make a tangible difference for Warren,” said Trish.
The local community members are no strangers to pulling together to help out others. Only a year ago Nick and Jess Finlayson lost their home to a fire, and it was help from those nearby that gave them a solid restart.
“Jess and Nick have recovered really well,” said Meg.
“They have immense gratitude to the community for their help over the past year. They have moved into a new home and are expecting their second child in January.
“They have also donated to Warren’s fundraiser and say it’s just one way of expressing how grateful they are for the community rallying around them when they needed it.”
This event will again encapsulate the spirit of resilience that characterises the Woomargama community.
The event will be held on Sunday 20 August at Woomargama Hotel from 2 pm to 5 pm.