A British grain trader, who travelled to Australia to help with bushfire relief efforts, has praised the strong sense of community spirit in spite of the devastation.
Based in Peterborough, Rupert Somerscales, consultant at ODA, flew out over Christmas to meet his family in Yorketown, South Australia, where the fires in Kangaroo Island resulted in the loss of hundreds of homes and hundreds of thousands of livestock.
Speaking to Farmers Guardian, Mr Somerscales highlighted the work of BlazeAid, a volunteer-led rural bushfire recovery organisation, which has helped thousands of farmers to replace fencing and other infrastructure.
Mr Somerscales said: “Kangaroo Island has seen the brunt of the fires and this organisation has been integral to getting people back on their feet.
“My son was able to spend a week on an affected farm, which gave him the opportunity to help out with looking after animals and creating fencing for farmland.
“Helping out your neighbour is at the heart of these relief efforts and it is a great indication of how people pull together.”
Australia’s devastating summer wildfires has led the authorities to rate this season the worst on record, with its Prime Minister Scott Morrison claiming the aftermath was ‘likely to last for months’.
Mr Somerscales went on to applaud the community’s response to the crises.
He added: “All farmers are extremely well equipped, with many a part of the Country Fire Service (CFS), which has been key to rebuilding and recovery within the community.
“The community response has been incredible.”
BlazeAid organises between 20,000 and 100,000 volunteers nationally to support farmers.
Food service giants JBS Global has today announced (February 3) an AUD $100,000 donation to the charity.
Sheep meat prices have soared to record highs on the back of the crisis.
Meat and Livestock Australia’s National Lamb Trade Indicator is at AU$8.05/kg carcase weight (£4.11/kg) which is 22 per cent more than last year.