Ask any one of the three St George schools and they will tell you that raising much needed funds to support the purchase of school equipment during the coronavirus pandemic has been nigh on impossible.
So, a donation of almost $1700 to each school Parents & Citizens body from local cotton farmers and the Riversands Vineyard earlier this week was certainly warmly welcomed.
The money was raised from the Cotton Farm and Vineyard tours which run each Thursday between May and September in St George.
The tour is an opportunity for visitors and residents to see firsthand two local horticultural production systems through a four-hour guided bus tour hosted by local cotton and vineyard owners with a focus on cotton and grape production and sustainable water management.
Guests learn how cotton and grapes are grown, irrigated and harvested and it often also includes a visit to one of the Shire’s largest vegetable farms to explain the workings of an enterprise which produces broccoli, onions and garlic on a commercial scale for supermarkets.
The tour was initially devised by collaborative partners Riversands Winery owner David Blacket and cotton grower Jeff Moon and now involves several cotton growers, all of whom donate their time, the profit is given to a local charitable enterprise every year.
It is supported by the Balonne Shire Visitor Information Centre, which assists in promotion and takes bookings, and local school bus drivers who drive the bus.
Now in its sixth year, the tour did extremely well in 2020 despite the trying circumstances caused by the pandemic with 703 people – more than 50 per cent up on the previous record – participating in almost 50 tours during the season.
Cotton grower Sno Harm said it was a delight to be involved and to meet many people from different walks of life as well as supporting local charities.
“We just love telling everyone the true facts about the cotton industry and meeting a lot of different people.”
St Patrick’s Primary School P&C president Cassie Love said the donation was a silver lining on what had been a difficult year in terms of fundraising.
“Basically it (the pandemic) brought all our fundraising to a grinding halt so this support is really appreciated and it means we can look forward to next year (with more confidence),” she said.
St George High School P&C president Scott Brimblecombe said the body had lost a lot of catering work which it regularly undertook to support school activities.
The funds donated are likely to go towards new library shelving at St George Primary, according to P&C president Alex Benn.
CAPTION: Handing over donations to local St George schools’ P&Cs representatives (front from left): Kathy Claxton, Scott Brimblecombe and Alex Benn are (back from left): Sno Harm, Craig Saunders and David Blacket.
For more information:
Nigel Tapp, Corporate Communications Co-ordinator-Balonne Shire Council
T: 07 4620 8804
M: 0476 660 047