Bushfire damage hits home for Force

Western Force players James Stannard, Nick Cummins and Cameron Shephard inspect Kane McDonald's ruined home. Pic: Becky Felstead / WA News


The Western Force have thrown their weight behind fundraising efforts for the Margaret River bushfire appeal.

The players, who were in the South West town for a three-day training camp, saw first hand the devastation left by the huge blaze which ripped through the area in November, destroying 32 houses and nine chalets.

They pledged active support for victims after visiting the wreckage of Kane McDonald’s 24-year labour of love.

Former Australian Sevens player-of-the-year James Stannard has an empathy with the fire victims. His family home in Karalee near Ipswich was lost in the Queensland floods.

“It’s tragic what has happened here. I don’t know how people are going to be able to rebuild their homes and lives,” he said.

The club’s Wallaby representatives and coach Richard Graham also attended a fundraising lunch at Vasse Felix winery.

Ms McDonald was teaching in Broome when the fire swept through. She returned to find only the walls of the two-story home she and her family had spent 24 years building.

“I was devastated when I saw this,” she said.

“It was a beautiful house, full of beautiful things from around the world.”

Ms McDonald is living in a tent on her Redgate property and converting a garage into a living area for winter.

“What lays ahead I don’t know,” she said.

“So many of us are in the same boat but it is fantastic to get visits like this from these guys. It does help lift your spirits. It is humbling and a fantastic goodwill gesture.”

Force chief executive Vern Reid has a home in Gnarabup but the fire stopped at his fence.

“I was extremely lucky thanks to a whole lot of other people’s efforts,” he said.

“We hope we can have some kind of impact in town. Hopefully we can do our bit.”

Graham said: “What we are doing is a small thing compared to what has been going on but we hope that we can put something back into the community.

“Being down here gives you an understanding of what it must have been like. It’s shocking.”

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