Trish Cheetham – Hastings Cancer Trust

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Meet Trish Cheetham – a tireless fundraiser with a passion for worthwhile causes. Trish plans to bring an iconic diesel motor rail, the Tin Hare, to Wauchope on August 7, to raise funds for the Hastings Cancer Trust. But don’t delay … reserve your tickets for this amazing event soon, as they’re selling fast …

Hi Trish. Firstly, please tell us about your history with fundraising …

I love fundraising. I don’t know why – but I do!

When I first came here [to Port Macquarie], I became involved with 2WAY FM, and I used to do street stalls. That was about 12, 13 years ago.

Then, there was an article in the Wauchope Gazette, which said there was going to be a fundraiser for defibrillators for the Ambulance Service. I spoke to the Editor and said I’d do a cake stall for this. After speaking to an ambulance officer, the next day there was an article in the paper saying I was the coordinator of this fundraiser. Telstra rang me and gave me a cordless phone and Country Energy – North Power as they were known in those days – gave me $200 for ingredients.

Suddenly, it all just snowballed! We were getting raffles; we got a child’s picnic set – we ended up having a B&B stay as first prize. We had 18 things on the list, and we raised $25,000 in 6 weeks – which was fantastic!

Then, Kaye Barnes and I went on a rail motor, and we decided we’d do it for Westpac Rescue. We took 40 people away for 3 days and raised $2,300, which was really hard work.

After a little break, I decided I’d bring the rail motor up last year for Westpac Helicopter, and we raised $6,000. This was doing loops from Kempsey to Wauchope. That was a very successful day, even though I didn’t manage to get the Tin Hare last year.

Then, because I had 78 people on the waiting list from last year that I couldn’t fit on the rail motor, I decided to do it again this year.

I have been faithfully promised the Tin Hare this year, and we will have 3 carriages. We can put up to 120 people on the carriages in this diesel rail motor. It will be $40 a head, and this includes a bacon and egg roll or a sausage in a roll with onion.

The funds raised this year will go to the Hastings Cancer Trust. Betty Allman works very hard for this charity, and they also have a gala dinner dance on the 18 June 2011, 6pm, at Port Macquarie Panthers.

There will be two balloon raffles, a slow auction and 5-piece Jazz band The MOODS will be performing on the night. Tickets are $85, and all money raised stays in the region. Betty can be contacted on: 6584 6937.

Hastings Cancer Trust is an amazing organisation that was created in 2005 to help cancer patients and carers in the Macleay and Hastings areas. With cancer being such a prevalent disease, it’s more important than ever to ensure people affected locally can access vital services in their area, without having to travel away to Sydney or Newcastle for treatment.

When are you planning to bring the Tin Hare diesel motor rail to Wauchope?

On Sunday, August 7.

What times will the Tin Hare be running – and what are the available destinations?

It will run at 10am, 12pm and 2pm. The 10am run will be from Wauchope to Kempsey and back. The 12pm run will go from Wauchope to Johns River and back, and the 2pm run will also go from Wauchope to Kempsey and back.

The trips are approximately 2 hours.

Where is the Tin Hare coming from – and where did it get its unusual name?

It’s coming from the Rail Motor Society in Paterson in New South Wales, where the rail motors are stored.

The Tin Hare got its name through greyhound racing. It is the nick-name given to wooden-bodied rail cars that began service in the 1920s in the NSW Railways. This was around the same time that greyhound tracks were converting to mechanical hares – and the name stuck!

The more correct name for these rail cars is CPH rail motor, or 42 foot rail motor. There were 37 CPH rail motors built between 1923 and 1930. They began service in country New South Wales in 1923 and continued service until the mid 1980s. There are only around 10 of these still in running condition in New South Wales and the ACT.

How did people find the experience of travelling on a rail motor last year, when you did the Wauchope-Kempsey run?

Quite a few people from last year said to let them know when the event was running again this year. Some people are very keen to do it again this year and were particularly interested in the Tin Hare.

I’ve rung people on my reserve list from last year to give them first opportunity for tickets. There’s been a lot of interest.

What do you personally find so rewarding about fundraising – why do you keep doing it?

(Laughs). It’s certainly not to get my photo in the media – that’s for sure! I just enjoy it. It’s networking. Being an ex-real estate agent, it’s just contact with people – and people I haven’t met before.

I wear a lot of hats! I’m in the RFS (Rural Fire Service) at Telegraph Point. I’m involved with the community engagement, so we travel to the schools. We also did fundraising to produce fridge magnets and brochures highlighting bushfire safety awareness. We do driver reviver from midnight ‘til 5, to keep people off the road if they’re tired.

I volunteer at St Agnes Hostel once a week, from 9am ‘til 3.30pm in the Dementia ward and high care ward. I also do telephone counselling with Lifeline.

How do you find the time to fit all of these activities in?

(Laughs). Well, Driver Reviver is only through school holidays – Christmas, Easter and things like that. St Agnes, of course, is only once a week – and I love it. With RFS, we have a meeting once a month. I’m not going out on the fire trailer as much as I used to now. Lifeline is a shift once a week.

It’s just about turning up for shifts when we need to. My husband’s terrific – I couldn’t do it all without him.

So, who can people contact if they’re interested in purchasing tickets for the Tin Hare?

Ring my number: 6585 8077, and if I’m not there, someone else will take the details and I’ll get back to them. The important thing is, people need to let us know what time they want to travel.

Early booking is essential to ensure your seat and your preferred time.

Thank you Trish – and congratulations on all of your fundraising and volunteering efforts.

Interview by Jo Atkins.


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