Hay runners’ mercy mission

Roadside message touches Hay Runners' hearts


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A sign glimpsed at the side of the road in Charleville touched the hearts of many of the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners during their mission to deliver drought relief to western Queenslanders, and led to a very special visit on their journey back home to New South Wales.

A sign glimpsed at the side of the road in Charleville touched the hearts of many of the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners during their mission to deliver drought relief to western Queenslanders, and led to a very special visit on their journey back home to New South Wales.

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Amongst the many placards saying thanks was one held by two youngsters, with the words “Our daddy was a truckie...He watches over you on your travels...Keep safe...Thank you for helping our families” and signed “Bo and Toby”.

Trucking family: Bo and Toby Gattera with the sign that touched the hearts of the hay runners. Source: Facebook.

Trucking family: Bo and Toby Gattera with the sign that touched the hearts of the hay runners. Source: Facebook.

When it was shared on social media it captured the hearts of a nation. Amongst them was Tweed Heads resident Wendi Burtenshaw, who normally runs a commercial cleaning company with her husband Jason.

Last weekend though she travelled over 3000km through outback Queensland in a refrigerated van with 152kg of pre-packed salads on board.

“The hay run popped up on my Facebook feed a couple of months ago, and I just said, give me a job, I want to help,” Wendi said.

She ended up agreeing to feed the 250-strong crew of drivers and support workers at their overnight stop at Barringun, population 4, coercing Jason into the adventure in the process.

“Even as we set off he was asking what it was all about,” she laughed.

She managed to convince the owners of the Mrs Crockets Kitchen brand, Primo Moraitis Fresh to donate 45 cartons of salad, and Jason sponsored the refrigerated van to transport it all in.

Helping hand: The Hay Runners brought drought relief one way and helped out a trucking family on their return journey. Picture: Sally Cripps.

Helping hand: The Hay Runners brought drought relief one way and helped out a trucking family on their return journey. Picture: Sally Cripps.

It’s no surprise that someone so energetic and keen to help made the mystery of Bo and Toby’s sign her mission to explore.

“The long hours on the road gave me time to think,” she explained.

Wendi learnt through the social media network that the children had lost their father, “Dub” Gattera, in an accident soon after going to work in the mines in the central highlands in 2011, and they just wanted to know that the organiser of the world record hay run had seen their message of support.

Not only was Brendan Farrell made aware of it, but he couldn’t wait to call in and say hello to his most passionate junior supporters.

Not only that but livewire Wendy arranged for around 10 other truckies to call in and take Bo and Toby for a ride in their trucks.

Group hug: Bo and Toby were surrounded by well-wishers when the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners were homebound on Sunday. Picture: Wendi Burtenshaw.

Group hug: Bo and Toby were surrounded by well-wishers when the Burrumbuttock Hay Runners were homebound on Sunday. Picture: Wendi Burtenshaw.

“I had a lot of messages from people I don’t even know, saying please give those kids a hug for me,” she said.

“It’s been a very emotional few days.

“I was privileged to ride with a few truckies and hear their stories.

“I really feel like we’ve done something worthwhile here this weekend. I can’t wait help out on another run now.”

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