Sing Australia Belmont lifts spirits in drought-stricken Murrurundi

WHAT initially started as a one-off visit to Murrurundi to spread some joy through singing, quickly turned into a passionate project to aid the drought-affected town for a group of Newcastle singers.

Sing Australia's Belmont choir converged on Murrurundi late last week, hosting a number of concerts, singing to local students and Murravale residents and raising spirits ahead of Christmas.

The group's generosity and caring nature was greatly appreciated by the town as was their massive fundraising effort, donating $23,500 to Doing it For Our Farmers, Murrurundi.

Annette McEwan, Sing Australia Belmont conductor and co-leader, said after visiting the town earlier in the year, the group decided to host a fundraising concert.

The Sing Out for Murrurundi concert at the Belmont 16s auditorium in late September raised nearly $13,000, however continued fundraising efforts from the choir's network increased the final figure dramatically.

"People were so inspired they kept putting money into the account and it's still growing, so hopefully in the next month or so we can give them another cheque," Annette McEwan said.

Speaking about their decision to assist Murrurundi, she said that media coverage certainly played a role in highlighting the town's desperate water situation.

"There was a four page spread in the Newcastle Herald one weekend and it was just so graphic and so poignant," she said.

"My father was born here and I'm in a pipe-band and we have paraded through these streets before, so I've had a connection to this town, that's just me personally.

"But because that article was so powerful, we just decided lets focus on Murrurundi and being two and a bit hours from Newcastle it was very doable."

Sing Australia Belmont also focussed on collecting grocery items for Murrurundi's Doing it For Our Farmers pop-up pantry in Mayne Street in the months leading up to their visit.

"All the networks within our choirs did their own fundraising in their own communities and it was just this fabulous network, so we ended up with a whole truck-load full of stuff here which we brought up a couple of weeks ago," Annette McEwan explained.

A free concert at the Murrurundi Bowling Club was enjoyed by many in the rural community on Friday night and the following morning the Murrurundi Lions Club hosted a barbecue breakfast while the Sing Australia members visited local cafes and shops.

They came to town laced with many beautifully thought out gifts, hand sewed items and personalised written notes praying for rain which they tied to the trees on the Main Street.

"We wanted to make an impact," Annette said.

"I think we will be back.

"There's people that were at the concert that loved to sing so much they want to start a Sing Australia up here so we will probably be coming up and helping them do that."

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