Wednesday, 31st October, 2018
By Callum Marshall
A special event marking the opening of a new chairlift at Silver City Cinema took place yesterday with a free movie session, food and drink as well as speeches helping celebrate people with disability or mobility restrictions now being able to access the top floor more easily.
The chairlift, a long-time dream of the Cinema, became reality thanks to the efforts of Sam Norman, a student at Flinders University who was a passionate advocate for those with disability and mobility restrictions and who sadly passed away at the age of 23 earlier this year.
For several months last year, Sam had lived in Broken Hill looking at ways to improve the lives of those with disability as part of a placement for his Bachelor of International Tourism Degree at Flinders University.
When Sam stopped by at Silver City Cinema one day and noticed that there wasn’t any lift access, he started a GoFundMe page to install the chairlift.
With that goal now accomplished, Manager at Silver City Cinema Ashton Wren said yesterday’s unveiling of the chairlift had been “fantastic.”
“Today (we’re) celebrating young Sam’s effort to make this dream become a reality for us, (for) all the disabled people and (for all) those who can’t climb stairs (so they can) come up and watch a movie,” he said.
“The day he came in, he said ‘I’m here on behalf of Council looking at Broken Hill disability access.’
“I have a really love-hate relationship with the Council so I wasn’t very friendly towards him at first, because I said to him ‘look, my father built this and built disabled toilets downstairs, and we never get funding for nothing. It’s all off our own back.’
“After I showed him what we did, we just got on talking and he became such a lovable character.
“He said, ‘I’m going to do this for you guys.’ So he came back a day later and set it all up for us, the GoFundMe, going around knocking on all the social clubs, and he knocked on the right door through the Democratic Club.”
With generous donations from locals and significant contributions from the Demo Club and Benevolent Society, the chairlift was able to be installed at the Cinema.
“There was one guy who doesn’t come to the movies but he popped in every Thursday to give us five bucks.
“With the chairlift, its money that we don’t have to find now and that’s what’s helped us to go ahead with our (planned) renovation. So sixty thousand dollars we don’t have to find or borrow.
“So thankyou to everybody who contributed.”
Sam’s family and close friends were also in attendance yesterday, with grandmother Bev and brother Ben benefiting from free flights to and from Adelaide courtesy of Regional Express Airlines.
They said Sam’s efforts to help out with the chairlift was in his kind and caring nature and that he had grown quite attached to the Hill.
“He really loved Broken Hill and wanted the best for everyone. Every time we would go on a road trip together we’d always stop past Broken Hill and he’d always be so excited to go see everything,” said Ben.
“We went up to the Line of Lode, and he’d walk around so happy. You’d think he lived here (all his life) given how much he went on about it.
“So I think it’s great that this is finally happening, and (it highlights what Sam was like). It didn’t matter who you were as long as you were good to him he was good to you.
“Everybody I’ve talked to is just overwhelmed with everything he did. Meeting people today, you can tell how happy they were to see us, and I feel like he’s a big part of that.
“It’s a true shame that we lost him so early but I’m also happy that I’ve known him and been a part of his life for all those years.
“I’m so proud of everything he’s done at such a young age.”
Bev, who had once lived in Broken Hill as a Governess for around nine to twelve months, said Sam had gone to visit all the places she’d become familiar with whilst living here such as School of the Air.
“Sam went and looked at all the things (I knew of) such as the School of the Air, (which) was quite new (back when I was here fifty five years ago,)” she said.
“He (also) got an award at Flinders University for the study that he did for disability. They’re putting a plaque on a bench in the grounds somewhere (for him).
“When they do it, they’ll have a commemoration service for him as well.
“But he really loved it in Broken Hill, so today means a lot. This was the biggest thing he’d ever done and he never got to see it finished so it’s a shame.”