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MaxShaw - Sydney Observer


A headmaster who gave everything for his students

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MaxShaw - Sydney Observer


A headmaster who gave everything for his students

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Tears of Joy as late Aunty Larna's Vision is Brought to Life


Tears of Joy as late Aunty Larna's Vision is Brought to Life

Tears of Joy as late Aunty Larna's Vision is Brought to Life


Tears of Joy as late Aunty Larna's Vision is Brought to Life

Pastor Claude Roberts stood with tears rolling down his face, his late wife’s vision had been fulfilled.

Mr Roberts was reflecting, eleven years earlier, his beloved wife Aunty Larna, had a vision of a church being built on the Dunghutti land at Nancy Ellis St, West Kempsey.

It took more than a decade, hundreds of volunteers and thousands of dollars but the Australian Indigenous Christian Ministries church stood tall.

The generosity and unselfishness required to complete the structure is truly remarkable.

After the passing of Aunty Larna, Mr Roberts reached out to the Redeemer Baptist School in Sydney, who he had heard completed similar projects in regional Indigenous communities in the past.

The school’s principal Jonathan Cannon met with Mr Roberts and they began discussing a plan to bring Larna’s vision to life.

The first step was to complete the due diligence hurdles.

They received approval from the Kempsey Aboriginal Land Council and with the help of Mike Dutton from Dex Consulting, they put an application into Kempsey Shire Council.

After two years of waiting, the development received the green light in March.

Each year, Year 10 students at Redeemer Baptist School learn about the culture of giving and they embark on a project which provides to those in need.

Mr Cannon informed them this year they would be travelling to Kempsey to build a church for the indigenous community.

“This is the eighth time we have been to a remote indigenous community and the fourth time we have built a structure like this one,” Mr Cannon said.

“The students develop a lot of life skills during the project. They learn about the culture of giving and the positives that comes from giving to those in need.”

The Year 10 students, along with Mr Cannon, fellow teachers and numerous volunteer professional tradesman, arrived in Kempsey in the first week of the school holidays to begin their generous development.

After eight days of blood, sweat and plenty of tears, the building and Larna’s vision was complete. 

“It mean’s everything to me to see it completed, I can feel it in my heart and it’s hard to put into words,” Mr Roberts told the Argus.

“I am very overwhelmed by the generosity of the school and everyone who contributed to make this a reality.

“It means a lot to the aboriginal community to get this finished.”

 Redeemer Baptist School principal Jonathan Cannon shakes hands with Pastor Claude after laying the final stone.

Redeemer Baptist School principal Jonathan Cannon shakes hands with Pastor Claude after laying the final stone.

Kempsey High School principal Mick Eller gave assistance to the program as he opened the school’s doors and provided the Redeemer Baptist School’s volunteers free accommodation and facilities.

“Mick was very generous and supportive, without him and the others who have helped along the way, it wouldn’t have been possible.”

Rotary Club of Kempsey and Uniting volunteer Annette Lawrence provided food for more than 100 hungry volunteers.

“The generosity from the town has been moving for us, without their support it wouldn’t have been possible,” Mr Cannon said.

“You can’t bring more than 100 people to a community and complete a project like this without other people supporting the cause.”

For the project to be possible, the school held a gala day and raised more than $35,000 through the auction of donated items, rides, sales, markets and barbecues.

A portion of the raised funds is donated to educate students in remote parts of the Northern Territory while the majority was used to build the structure.

Reece Plumbing donated more than $1500 worth of equipment, the lights were donated by EWS while the shed was purchased at Macleay Valley sheds.

The Australian Indigenous Christian Ministries are hopeful to receive more donations to further complete the project, to close the shed at each entry point.

When considering the hours of manpower from trained professionals and volunteers, the school estimated at least $60,000 worth of manpower had been used to complete the project.

A service will be held every second Sunday of the month at 10am.

The Macleay Argus

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