Kim­ber­ley fam­ily makes its mark in anti-bul­ly­ing cam­paign with auc­tion

Central Queensland News - - RURAL WEEKLY - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

FOUR handy sta­tion kids from a re­mote Kim­ber­ley prop­erty are do­ing all they can to sup­port Dolly’s Dream.

The Towne fam­ily, based at Gogo Sta­tion just east of Fitzroy Cross­ing in Western Aus­tralia, have teamed up to train and pre­pare a pony that will be auc­tioned off solely to sup­port the Dolly’s Dream Foun­da­tion. Dolly’s Dream was es­tab­lished by the Everett fam­ily af­ter their 14-year-old daugh­ter Amy Everett, who was af­fec­tion­ately known as Dolly, died by sui­cide.

Since the teen’s death, the Everett fam­ily has spo­ken out about the im­pacts bul­ly­ing had on their young daugh­ter’s life. Bravely ad­dress­ing the me­dia af­ter Dolly’s fu­neral they stated they would do as much as they could to put a stop to bul­ly­ing and to raise aware­ness of youth sui­cide and men­tal health.

Like many par­ents across the coun­try, Sally and Chris Towne were left shaken af­ter hear­ing of Dolly’s death. Their chil­dren com­pleted School of the Air with Dolly, and they knew the Everett fam­ily from so­cial­is­ing at cam­p­drafts.

“Dolly was a beau­ti­ful girl, she had a strong con­nec­tion with horses, she loved an­i­mals. Peo­ple are al­ways look­ing for good kids’ ponies, so we think by do­nat­ing this filly we will be able to con­trib­ute quite a bit to Dolly’s Dream,” Sally said.

“With 13-year-old twins, an 11-year-old and a 10-year-old, we are ex­tremely pas­sion­ate about help­ing Tick (Everett), Kate and Meg as much as we can.

“The bul­ly­ing prob­lem needs to be ad­dressed. Youth sui­cide is on the rise.”

Af­ter hatch­ing a plan, the Towne fam­ily selected the per­fect pony for the cause: a

gor­geous three-year-old filly called Pump­kin.

The pure­bred Welsh moun­tain pony has plenty of style and a gen­tle na­ture.

“My aunt and un­cle breed Welsh ponies in New South Wales. They send us a few year­lings each year and the kids break them in and train them,” she said.

“Our chil­dren are re­ally keen to work with them and get them go­ing. It’s great ex­pe­ri­ence for our chil­dren to break them in and train them at a young age.”

Un­der the watch­ful eye of Sally and Chris, who are both ex­pe­ri­enced horse peo­ple, their clan got to work on Pump­kin. Jack (13) broke her in and Chloe (13), Annabelle (11), and Emily (10) have fur­ther trained and fine-tuned her skills.

With the goal of mak­ing her “bomb-proof” for the next fam­ily, they have leap-frogged from her back, dragged tarps around and across her and crawled through her legs and un­der her belly.

“Pump­kin will have all the ba­sics and a great foun­da­tion for the lucky fam­ily to go on with,” Sally said.

De­tails for the auc­tion will be an­nounced later in the year.

“We are go­ing to make sure wher­ever the auc­tion is, it’s within good (phone) range so peo­ple can phone in to bid and we can livestream it,” she said.

“The girls al­ready have plans on how they want to ride her through the auc­tion. They are teach­ing her tricks, get­ting her to bow and train­ing her to smile.”

A re­serve has been set for the auc­tion but Sally was tight-lipped on how much she pre­dicted the pony could fetch.

“We just know, from be­ing in the in­dus­try, good kids’ ponies are hard to find,” she said.

“It will mean a lot to peo­ple to see this horse can be ridden well by chil­dren. Hope­fully she raises quite a bit for the Dolly’s Dream Foun­da­tion.”

It’s a tight-knit com­mu­nity within the north­ern beef in­dus­try and, as only a few weeks ago Sally was pre­par­ing two of her own kids to re­turn to board­ing school, Dolly’s shock death was play­ing on her mind.

“Ev­ery­one is just heartbroken for Dolly’s fam­ily,” she said.

“The story has res­onated with so many peo­ple, and I think it’s be­cause bul­ly­ing and youth sui­cide have be­come so preva­lent.”

Sally has no doubts that Tick, Kate and Meg’s de­ter­mi­na­tion will re­duce the bul­ly­ing bur­den on young lives.

“I do think they will make pos­i­tive change,” she said.

The Towne fam­ily is also do­nat­ing a new ju­nior drafter saddle, made by Queens­land’s Roma Sad­dlery.

Those keen to call in a bid will need to reg­is­ter prior to the event.

If you or any­one you know needs sup­port, call Life­line on 13 11 14, or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.

PHO­TOS: CON­TRIB­UTED

YOUNG TAL­ENT: Annabelle Towne with Pump­kin, a three-year-old Welsh moun­tain pony that will be auc­tioned off to raise money for the Dolly’s Dream Foun­da­tion.

Emily Towne from Gogo Sta­tion teaches Pump­kin to bow.

Annabelle walk­ing Pump­kin ahead of his auc­tion for Dolly’s Dream.

Annabelle Towne proves Pump­kin has a gen­tle na­ture with a bal­anc­ing act.

Amy “Dolly” Everett.

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