When Sally Heather thinks of Royal Far West it is with a feeling of deep gratitude and comfort – “I love them”.
The charity, which has given children living in rural and remote regions access to specialist medical care and allied health support services since 1924, has played an invaluable role in her family, offering support to her father, her brother and her son Bailey.
“My father was only a baby when he contracted polio – he was 18 months old and spent 18 months down in Manly. That was back in 1953 when there was not much assistance for poorer rural families … it made a huge difference for him,” Sally said.
“My brother was there for orthodontics; there were no specialists here and now RFW has been supporting Bailey.
“He was 10 when we first went down to Manly. He was struggling at school and a local GP gave us a referral, as did his teacher.
“They found he needed help with fine motor skills and anxiety – they were so wonderful; they gave him the tools to learn how to handle himself in the classroom, and in every day life.”
She said the family went down to the charity’s Manly base for a week at a time for appointments. Accommodation and food are provided, as is school for the children and the cost is minimal.
“It can be intense and stressful but they also offer lots of activities for the children, so it is a form of respite for parents. Plus Manly Beach is just over the road!”
Royal Far West is calling on former local alumni from the 1940s to 1980s to drop into its stand at this year’s ProAg on November 3 and 4 at Macksville Showground and share their stories.
Royal Far West champions country kids’ access to healthcare and works to shine a light on the disparity between city and country children’s health outcomes and access to services.
It works with country kids, parents and communities to understand and support health and development concerns; including autism, intellectual disabilities,speech, language and communication problems, and mental health concerns.
The charity can be found at ProAg on stand E27-28.