ENTREPRENEUR Dick Smith yesterday gave the Country Women’s Association $1 million.
The decision to do it came while he was making a trip home from Halls Creek, in Western Australia’s Kimberley region.
Mr Smith was flying home in his helicopter, he likes to fly at 300 metres, so he gets a good look at the country, and on Tuesday night admitted he was a bit taken aback by the state NSW is in.
Enroute to Sydney, he calls Terrey Hills home these days, he capitalised on the chance to drop into the little town of Tooraweenah, population a couple of hundred.
It was a far cry from the days of his youth, when he used to hitchhike across the kurrajong country to rock climb in the Warrumbungles.
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He always dropped in at Tooraweenah. The town is an icon of Australia’s air flight, where one of the first major airlines, Butler Airways, had its origins. Mr Smith said in the 1950s if you wanted to fly in NSW, Butler Airways was your choice of carrier.
Wandering about town reminiscing, he reckoned Tooraweenah hadn’t changed much at all.
He came across a quaint little Country Women’s Association building and thought to himself: “the CWA, I guess that (branch) would have shut down years ago.”
But the door was ajar, and curiousity drove him to take a look inside.
And there before him were three women sewing, fair dinkum CWA members.
They were impressed, but not overwhelmed, that the great Dick Smith just happened to wander in on them.
He said he was struck by their positivity and moved by seeing the tradition alive and well before his eyes.
I thought: “They’re so positive even though times are incredibly tough, these women are stalwarts of the bush.
“There’s no feed left in NSW and it’s hard enough to buy in from interstate at an acceptable price.”
So standing in what he believes the best example of a country Australian town unchanged by the tests of time, he made a snap decision, he was going to give the CWA a million dollars.
He asked the three seamstresses what they might do with a donation of $5000, and all agreed the kitchen needed doing up.
So on Wednesday the Tooraweenah branch got a cheque for $5000 to do up the kitchen and the Country Women’s Association of Australia received a cheque for a million, via the Tooraweenah branch.
“I thought it’s a very good organisation, they’ll know what to do with the money.”
That makes $10 million Dick Smith Foods has donated to Australians.
And on Wednesday, after the presentation was made, everybody went for lunch at the pub together.