Drake Locals Patching up after Bushfires

Wednesday 13 January 2021

If a stitch in time saves nine, the revival of Drake is in good hands with its Sewing Circle set to ramp up through a bushfire recovery grant from St Vincent de Paul Society, and a huge donation of sewing materials from a Vinnies volunteer who insists on remaining anonymous.

Drake’s sewing circle leading a revival of the village’s hall. Pictured: Kris Love, Richmond regional president Mick Albany, Progress Association President Roger Turner, Amanda Hartley and Doree Hartley.

The country around Drake, between Casino and Tenterfield, was hit hard by the bushfires of 2019/20. Important to helping restore the community’s spirit is the support of organisations such as Vinnies, which has provided more than $20,000 worth of assistance from our community bushfire grants programs.

The Society has funded the re-flooring of the craft gallery at the multi-purpose Drake Village Resource Centre. The previous floor was collapsing, meaning there was no outlet for the high quality paintings, jewellery, woodwork and other creations by talented locals.

“Our mission is to provide the community of Drake with the resources for each individual to realise their own potential,” read the DVRC’s submission to Vinnies.

A second Vinnies bushfire grant of around $20,000 has funded two large capacity water tanks and air conditioners, plus ten sewing machines and storage cupboards to help the rebirth of the popular Drake Sewing Circle.

The group is based in the community hall, hand-built by locals out of hardwoods and remnant rainforest timbers, and mud bricks. The hall is managed by the Drake School of Arts and Progress Association, which cancelled all activities because of the fires and then COVID-19.

Building Drake Hall, 1986

Sewing circle members can do their own thing, or join others in making repairs and alterations, quilting, general family sewing and crafting goods for sale in the local market, soon to recommence.

As an unexpected bonus, a Vinnies volunteer from the coast - who insists on remaining anonymous – has donated a literal truckload of sewing materials to the Circle. ‘Elsie’ estimates that the scrap materials and equipment were collected over twenty years, during which time she ran a sewing business and never let any scraps go to waste.

Now, as her eyes are not what they once were, she wants this trove of usable leftovers to go to a good cause. The Society’s regional president for Richmond, Mick Albany, borrowed a truck from Vinnies recycling centre in Goonellabah to transport the materials from Elsie’s home up to Drake.

Like those at the hall, he couldn’t believe how much she had accumulated over the years.

Progress Association President Roger Turner expressed the community’s gratitude to Vinnies for our valuable support: “Without these grants it would take much longer to give the hall the upgrades it needs, and to enable the gallery at the DRVC to be back in business.”