A LOCAL contractor working on the State and Federal governments' free bushfire clean-up program has surprised a landowner with a new puppy, just days after they cleared his property.
Brad Lees, from LEEZ Group Services, led a team of six clearing Bill Harris-Walker's property near Willawarrin.
"We have been working with Laing O'Rourke on the clean-up for weeks now. In that time we've met so many great local people, some of whom have really heart-breaking stories to share," Brad said.
"Bill is one of them. He is a 78-year-old retired Federal Police officer, father and grandfather. He lives on his own and makes ends meet by working as a farmhand on nearby properties.
"On the day of the fire Bill walked into Willawarrin to the pub where locals were gathering. Initially, the fire was more than 20km away from his property but the fire moved more quickly than expected and sadly Bill lost his home and his beloved dog, Pete.
"When Bill told us this, our hearts just broke and we knew we had to do something more than just clear up his property to help. Bill had told us he was keen to bring a new pup home sometime soon to keep him company, so we decided to bring those plans forward and surprise him with Snip - a three-month-old kelpie-cross.
"Everyone on the team chipped in. Together, we had enough money to cover the cost of Snip, his puppy vet bills, a new bed and blankets, a lead, bowl and food. When the work on his property was done, we all went over to Bill's place to introduce him to Snip and share a few laughs.
"In the whole time we've been clearing Bill's property, we hadn't seen him smile like that!
"It was a really humbling moment, one we all will never forget, and a great reminder of just how much this work means to the people in the community.
"I'm so proud of the team for making this happen and so grateful we get to be a part of this project.
"Once we were engaged by AADEMEX & Laing O'Rourke to be a part of this project, I sat down with the team and as a group we thought that it was important to us to leave a feelgood moment in some way, shape or form where we could with each property owner to help them move on from this devastation."
LEEZ Group Services - a Far North Coast based family owned and operated business - is one of many local businesses working with Laing O'Rourke to deliver the State and Federal governments' bushfire clean-up program.
Registrations for the clean-up program are still open. Residents are urged to make sure they are registered - while also making sure your friends, family and neighbours are registered.
You can register by calling 137-788 or visiting https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/transaction/register-opt-nsw-bushfire-clean.
If at any point you would like further information about the clean-up process you can visit https://cleanup.lnbr.com.au/ at any time or contact Laing O'Rourke on 1800 007-539.