I’ll remember that all my life

22 March 2022

Colin is one of the many people Vinnies has been able to assist with funds raised through the Vinnies NSW Flood Appeal.

You can help communities impacted by flooding in Northern NSW today by donating at www.vinnies.org.au/nswfloodappeal or calling 13 18 12.

It is said that every photo tells a story.

For Colin Beard, his is one of humanity in the face of hardship.

Living a well-travelled life as a photographer, capturing icons of sixties rock including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix, his diverse work has also been seen in major newspapers, fashion magazines and Australian Geographic.

More recently, Colin has shared his decades of knowledge as a teacher before settling down where the Richmond and Wilsons Rivers meet in Coraki.

For a man who has been behind the lens, capturing so much history in real time over the years, the events that saw his house flooded occurred far faster than ever envisioned.

“I realised the water starting to come up and thought ‘I better get out of here,’ but I couldn’t find my cat [Sweetie],” says Colin.

“By the time I found my cat, I’d lost my car as the water was too far up, I was there from midday until about five or six o’clock.

“I’d rung the police - a couple of guys with a boat came and they said, ‘Do you need a lift?’”

Left to deal with the fallout at a church-turned-evacuation centre in town, the shock of losing so much so suddenly took an unexpectedly compassionate turn when a young girl named Asia ‘adopted’ Colin into her family.

“She started looking after me and introduced me to her family; the parents are terrific, she’s the second of four children.”

“They’ve lost their house, in fact, the house has moved about ten feet, so they brought me with them to Goonellabah.

“They’re staying in a big trailer camper, I’ve got a little space with my cat, and little Asia said, ‘I’ve put a chair in the shade for you.’

“I’ll remember that all my life, how this little girl pulled me into the family - beautiful.”

Spending time with the family whilst planning his next steps, Vinnies has been able to assist Colin with financial aid at one of the several recovery centres located across the region.

“You can talk to people and get into your sites, get all your details and sort things out which is a great relief.

“I’m amazed at the generosity, money’s been put in my account which is going to help me pay new bonds, it’s incredible.”

While many residents impacted by the floods are determined to rebuild in the community, Colin sees his next chapter elsewhere and is working with his ex-wife to head south and start over closer to services.

“I could’ve tried to find a place here, but there’s so many people looking and at my age it’s time to be with more friends.

“I’ll be close to her and also on a railroad line, that’s the plan at the moment.”

Flood-affected residents, like Colin, need your help to recover from devastation that has swept across the Northern Rivers.

You can make a difference by generously donating to the Vinnies NSW Flood Appeal by visiting www.vinnies.org.au/nswfloodappeal or calling 13 18 12 to enable Vinnies to offer a hand up in a time of need.