Star readers rally to help Hatton Vale couple

HELPING HANDS: Alex Rigby of the Lowood RSL sub-branch was happy to help Ms McNair after reading about her travel woes.
HELPING HANDS: Alex Rigby of the Lowood RSL sub-branch was happy to help Ms McNair after reading about her travel woes. Melanie Keyte

A SIMPLE trip and Jillian McNair was stuck.

The Hatton Vale woman broke her foot last month while visiting her son's house and was unable to travel from her home to Ipswich Hospital for her appointments until a team of Gatton Star readers pitched in to help.

Ms McNair's husband is a veteran who no longer drives and while he is entitled to subsidised transport, his wife and carer found it far more difficult to access similar support services for herself.

"The only (form of transport) I could probably get was a Laidley taxi and goodness knows how much that would have cost,” Ms McNair said.

"Our children are all on the Gold Coast and they'll missed a bit of work to come here and help me out, and we've had our neighbour who's been really good.

"It's very awkward to get yourself around when you've broken your foot.”

Frustrated, she wrote a letter to the Gatton Star that outlined her woes and struck a chord with a nearby member of the Lowood RSL sub-branch.

The sub-branch's deputy president Trevor Tootell leapt into action immediately and arranged for a number of drivers to take Ms McNair to her appointments, all free of charge.

"All I was thinking was we've got a vet and his carer in trouble and our job as part of the RSL welfare is to look after the vets,” he said.

"If we were able to assist them in any way, that's what we do.”

Ms McNair said she was surprised to find there was no other service for people like her but Mr Tootell said the couple's situation was not unique.

"We have several people in the same boat,” he said.

"All our guys are volunteers, basically what they're there for is to look after the vets and their families, be it their carers or otherwise.

"But there's got to be a better system than us doing it the way we do it.”

After publishing Ms McNair's original letter in the August 2 edition, the Star received a flurry of offers to help the stranded couple which Ms McNair said was "fantastic.”

"It's all been worthwhile and probably opened up other people's eyes,” she said.

"It's been lovely to see how the community can come together when you really need help.

"Knowing Lowood have this service has been a big relief.”

Lowood RSL sub-branch president Peter Ryan said their services also included free meals for pensioners and assistance to nearby schools.

"We support whoever we can,” he said.

"We live by grants and raffles and it's hard, but it's very rewarding when you can help someone.”

Find your closest RSL sub-branch:

Esk: 54241767

Gatton: 54625892

Helidon: 46976508

Laidley: 54653537

Lowood: 54261088

Rosewood: 54642628

Topics:  community support gatton star letters to the editor lowood transport veterans volunteers

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