NSW drought: Black Tie and Boots Ball Bathurst

WINNER: Krissy Smith from Dubbo nominated her husband Mat Smith for a night out at the Black Tie and Boots Ball and was one of the lucky ticket winners.
WINNER: Krissy Smith from Dubbo nominated her husband Mat Smith for a night out at the Black Tie and Boots Ball and was one of the lucky ticket winners.

FORMAL dresses have been borrowed, neighbours called on to feed the stock and another given a fuel card just to attend – the Black Tie and Boots Ball will be a night to remember.

Amid the heartbreak of the intense drought a small group of farmers are about to step away from their beloved properties for a night out on the town.

Fairfax Media called for the community to nominate farmers who were doing it tough to score two tickets to the sold-out formal fundraiser for Rural Aid being held this Saturday in Bathurst.

Twenty tickets were up for grabs and our region’s newspapers received scores of nominations for many deserving farmers.

The lucky winners were: David and Leah McKay (from Evans Plains), Graham and Elizabeth Mulligan (Alectown), Mat and Krissy Smith (Dubbo), Lisa Howarth (Freemantle), Andrew Smith (Mount Rankin), Grant Toole (Peel), Mandy and Simon McCutcheon (Trangie), Justin and Kate O'Brian (Tottenham), Matt Haines (Yeoval) and Rob and Trisha Scott (Triangle Flat).

The tickets were donated by Rural Aid ambassadors Grant and Chezzi Denyer, along with Macquarie Medi Spa and Hynash.

The Denyers selected the winners from the nominations.

A number of farmers shed a tear when they found out they had been nominated by the community and then selected as a winner.

Some spoke of the “brutal” conditions brought on by the drought, how they had been hand-feeding stock for months on end and how even food on their own dinner tables was scarce.

Fourth generation grazier Mat Smith from Dubbo won tickets and said the severity of the drought had surprised many farmers.

“It’s the pace that it crept up and it’s not something you would expect for this area,” he said.

You don't go out for meals, you don't make unnecessary trips to town, but we’re together and that’s the main thing.

Rob and Trisha Scott, graziers from Yeoval

“It’s caught everyone, it’s not just one area of farming, it’s literally affected just about every avenue of farming.

“Some days are uplifting and other days it’s depressing.”

Rob and Trisha Scott from Yeoval also won tickets and she said their lives had been changed by the drought.

“You don’t go out for meals, you don't make unnecessary trips to town, but we’re together and that’s the main thing,” she said.

“I think it's really important for people to know that they're not alone.

“Without things like Rural Aid and Drought Angels a lot of our farmers wouldn't be standing.”

Tottenham grazier Kate O’Brian was among the winners and said the drought had been brutal.

“We’re down to our core group of breeders, we’ve run out of money and we’ve hit rock bottom,” she said.

Funds raised from the event will help Rural Aid provide a mental health counsellor who will be dedicated for our local region.