This is a story about Peter Waterhouse, the people of the NACC NRM region, and the amazing community spirit that exists out here in the bush.
Both a generous catalyst and recipient of that community spirit, Peter Waterhouse, through his many volunteering efforts, has become more than a pillar in his local community.
His community contributions have come over many years, in many ways, such as through his work with the Moore Catchment Council, Shire of Perenjori, North Central Malleefowl Preservation Group, Latham Bowls Club, or while serving as a St John Ambulance emergency volunteer and contributor to the local bush fire brigade. These are only a few of the groups for which he has made a significant contribution over the years.
Devastatingly, Peter was recently diagnosed with liver cancer, and yet he has still continued to make his contribution to the community, as evidenced by him being on St Johns Ambulance first aid duties at the recent Blues for the Bush event at Charles Darwin Reserve.
With the current, and stressful harvest season now in full swing, along came an opportunity for that famed rural community spirit to also come into full swing, with the local community jumping at an opportunity to say “Thank You”… in a very special way.
Hundreds of people embodied that spirit last weekend when, to show their support, they turned-up on mass and in a military-precision-like-operation, went about harvesting almost all of Peter’s property – in a single day.
NACC Natural Resource Management Officer Heather Legge who was at the property and witnessed this amazing community effort in action and said she was “amazed and humbled” by the effort.
“About 1,100 hectares were harvested by the community between about 5am and 4pm. There were 15 headers, 20 trucks, 5 road trains, several chaser bins and even an aeroplane,” she said.
“The scale of the operation, and logistics was a sight to behold. The local CBH bin even opened their doors especially for Peter’s wheat. The local IGA donated bread, fruit and soft drinks for everyone on the day, an entire tanker of fuel was out there to re-fill everyone after the day and there were so many people from all over the place who turned-up with something to contribute.
“Neighbours and people from far and wide gave up their Sunday, provided their machinery, and their own precious time and that of their workers as well. There were also many hands in the kitchen making sandwiches, and a ‘pop-up’ childcare centre was practically in operation at Peter’s house.
“Later there was a fabulous celebration at the Latham Bowls Club at which there must have been more than 200 people. Many got a bit teary during the thank you speeches.”
Heather said it was Peter’s son, Blake, who had organised the day’s massive effort despite having many obstacles, such as no phone reception.
“He organised the entire day, so hats off to him, as it was a logistical masterpiece,” she said.
“No phone signal out there meant that Blake had to drive to people’s houses to spread the word and marshal the army of volunteers.
“This incredible display of community spirit and generosity has taken a huge stress off Peter, but he still has some of the smaller old paddocks around the old house to enjoy harvesting in his own time. It will also allow Sue and Peter to finally take a holiday together in their new campervan.”
Heather said Peter was overwhelmed by both the effort and generosity of his community.
You can read a fuller account of the story, on the ABC Mid West – Wheatbelt website.