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Silverlea hope

Saturday, 9th March, 2019

By Craig Brealey

Silverlea was so dear to everyone’s heart that the St Patrick’s Race Club did not have to think twice about letting it raise a bit of money on race day, the club’s vice president said yesterday.

Next Saturday, volunteers will be at the main entrance to the racecourse with buckets for donations to Broken Hill’s own school for children with profound intellectual disabilities.

The 58-year-old institution has helped thousands of children but is in danger of closing within weeks because government is no longer funding it.

The NSW government withdrew its annual block funding of $210,000 last year and Silverlea has so far not been able to get it reinstated or the federal government to replace it.

Last week Silverlea revealed its plight and appealed to the public for help.

The vice president of St Pat’s, Andrew Schmidt, said Silverlea’s request was put to a committee meeting this week and the discussion was brief.

“It passed straight away,” Mr Schmidt said. “When it’s something like Silverlea, we were more than happy to support them.

“Ninety-nine per cent of the people that go to the races go through that gate so Silverlea could probably be there when they leave and make twice as much,” he said.

The club has never allowed fundraising on the course proper but it had let people like the Salvation Army and those who shave their heads to raise money for leukaemia research invite donations at the gate, said Mr Schmidt.

However, it was not something that happened often, he said.

Diana Ferry, the chair of Silverlea Early Childhood Services board, described St Pat’s favour as a privilege and said the response from everyone was truly heart-warming.

“People have been contacting Silverlea and asking what they can do to help, and making donations to our website and at the Credit Union,” Ms Ferry said.

“John Wren at the cinema has offered us two movie fundraisers and Coles is giving us Easter eggs for a raffle.”

The other supermarkets will be approached as well as the various businesses and the clubs, Ms Ferry said.

“We have also had offers to bake cakes and other goods for us to raffle.”

Silverlea was the only service of its kind in the Far West and the generosity of the public would help keep it going until it could establish a long day care centre to bring in more income, she said.

“We were a bit nervous about that because we didn’t want to go into competition with the other day care centres, but they have been just wonderful and have offered us help.”

The local federal MP, Mark Coulton, said last week he was confident that the Commonwealth would be able provide some funding and Ms Ferry said Silverlea had not given up hope that the State MP, Kevin Humphries, might be able to help.

“They have an association with Broken Hill and they would know how loved Silverlea is. It isn’t a lot of money.”

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