My name is David Osborne. You would remember me as “the kid with the Guzunder on his head” from an earlier Ilkeston Life paper. I am Betty O’Neill’s cousin in Australia. Please excuse my written English, I was a Bennerley drop out kid but I do have a heart. I would like to thank you for putting Betty’s letter in Ilkeston Life asking for donations to help the wild animals that have lost their homes and have no food as well as medical attention.
It is hard to comprehend how bad this situation is, some fires have been burning since early October and on a scale never seen before. The news of the fires is on national radio and TV 24/7, tonight the TV showed 75 cars being escorted out of the ravaged area. Those people have been stranded since Christmas as all the roads are closed and will be for many months. The TV coverage doesn’t show the full picture as the roads in these areas are just so dangerous, mostly you see back burning. Almost 2,000 homes have been destroyed, hundreds of farms are lost, many thousands of head of sheep and cattle leaving farmers with no home, no farm, no stock and no hope.
Our wild animals are suffering also as shelters have been destroyed, several charities have been opened and they say that all the money goes directly to the shelters; the shelters are just volunteers that normally help the odd injured animal, but now they are full time, some have even leased farm buildings and yards away from the fires to help with the task as many sanctuaries have been lost to the fires. This sort of work is purely voluntary and is not funded other than by donation. Australia’s native animals have lost their food and their habitat. Imagine the size of Ireland completely ravaged by high intensity fire, only a very small percentage survives and the larger percentage of what does survive is injured. The odd few that make it out OK have no food or habitat; it’s very sad, a total catastrophe, yet the fire season here has only just begun.
I live on the outskirts of Melbourne on its only high point ‘Mount Dandenong’ where you would normally have a back fence. We have nothing, just the forest and bush. For the past few weeks we have had dense smoke from the fires some 400 kilometres away.
I would like to ask Ilkeston Life if it would appeal to readers to donate to an Australian charity helping these poor creatures. I would be very proud if a donation collected by Ilkeston Life were to go to any of the charities.
Australia is a big country, unfortunately even the fire controls are restricted by State Borders, so really I should be asking for a collection for a Victoria State charity, but fire and wild animals don’t know about boundaries and state borders, they simply need help. These fires are still burning, animals are still dying, Please help.
Thank you,
David Osborne,
Melbourne, Australia

• We are putting a collection box in our office, the U Choose Cafe, 1 Bath Street, Ilkeston if any reader would like to donate in this way.

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