DESPITE the sweltering heat, February’s Belltrees versus Rouchel charity match at Belltrees Cricket Ground was another resounding success for all involved.
On Tuesday organisers of the annual event handed over a cheque for an amazing $35,000 to local not-for-profit charity Where there’s A Will.
That figure is $1,000 more than last year, a goal that Belltrees president Ben McRae said organisers had set for themselves.
“We wanted to try and beat the previous year’s figures,” he said.
“And we are over the moon with the repeated support of the event.”
However, Mr McRae says the final figure could have been even more had there not been a wind storm on the day.
“A wind storm came through and completely blew away one of our marquees – so we lost some of the funds to that,” he said.
“The auctions were also strong again, raising around $25,000, with the rest of the funds coming from food and drink sales and donations.
“We’d like to thank the community for their support of the day and the Upper Hunter businesses that donated everything we needed to run the day.”
Since the event started seven years ago, it has raised in excess of $100,000 for the McGrath Foundation.
Organisers made the decision in 2017 to support Where there’s A Will and since then the day has grown in size to become a popular community event and now raised just short of $70,000 for the foundation.
Pauline Carrigan said all credit goes to the organisers for making it a successful day despite the drought and bushfires.
“The Belltrees v Rouchel annual charity cricket day was one of the first major fundraisers for Where there’s a Will,” she said.
“It’s also the first repeated fundraising event for our charity.”
Mrs Carrigan said the support they received has given the not-for-profit a real boost going forward as they work on a number of projects such as mental health first aid training and the Visible Wellbeing programme that is being rolled out in 16 Upper Hunter schools.
“We’ve been really impressed by the breadth of the different organisations that are stepping up to support us,” she said.
“Men are responding by raising money for the problem – I know they’re finding it difficult to talk about the hard stuff but they do want a solution for their own children and the future of youth.”
Mrs Carrigan said they are starting to see an interesting trend form in the Upper Hunter community.
“It’s quite an interesting thing we are witnessing – we are seeing men and women are playing different roles in Where there’s A Will and the way that it’s developing in the community,” she said.
“The women are actually on the committees and helping in the schools and everything that’s happening but the men are actually raising money for us to do it.
“The big money is coming from all the men’s associations and so they’re playing their role really well, particularly when they’re holding functions like the cricket which is a really great family day out.”
The day saw the Belltrees Bushrangers (7/101) came away with their first victory against the Rouchel Warriors (6/170) in seven years in a Twenty20 match which was the first time the two teams had both been at the top of the ladder.