When students in drought-affected NSW had their school pet lizard stolen they could not have dreamed how the news would affect students at a public school on the Central Coast.
Students on the Central Coast have drafted a dragon and a beach break to help Somerton Public School near Tamworth get through the drought.
The Entrance Public School students had collected money and non-perishable food for the families of the 29-student school in the middle of the drought area, 25 kilometres north-west of Tamworth, but their efforts, those of teacher and School liaison officer Ally Bayfield and the P&C have now extended much further.
Deputy Principal Nicole Heazlewood said the work of parents and generosity of local businesses had resulted in a package aimed at really lifting the morale of the Somerton families.
“The Red Bus company have offered to take the donations, Ally and 10 of our students to Somerton on Wednesday, and return that day with them and the Somerton students,” said Ms Heazlewood.
“Camp Toukley have donated two nights’ accommodation and food for our visitors, and we’ll be giving them a real taste of the coastal life, with things like visits to the beach and feeding the pelicans.
“They’ll be taking an unforgettable souvenir back with them on Friday: Wattle the Bearded Dragon.
“This is because we learnt that during a recent break-in at their school, their Bearded Dragon Rocco was abducted, and hasn’t been returned.
“We used our contacts and a licensed breeder, Irene Novak, made Wattle available.
“She’ll be enjoying a luxurious inland life thanks to a proper reptile enclosure with all the trimmings – lamp, heatpad etc, donated by another local business, All Coast Aquariums.
“We are absolutely thrilled at the response we’ve had, and delighted to translate such a strong spirit of support into practical and lasting benefit.”
On a personal level, the Somerton students had made up wish-lists of possible contributions, which The Entrance staff and students were doing their best to fill from their own means.
Somerton PS Principal Kylie Lacey said it was hard to find the words to express the school’s thanks.
“I am absolutely speechless at the generosity and work that The Entrance PS has put in to helping our kids. You never ask for anything like this to happen and for us here at Somerton it’s been like watching a movie of incredible generosity where people just make things happen; only it really is happening!” she said.
“It's been a 'pinch yourself so you know it's real' kind of journey.”