Prince Harry and Meghan pay tribute to heroes in bushfire crisis

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle pay tribute to ‘the strength of spirit and generosity of community Down Under’ as they share a message of support for bushfire-hit communities on Australia Day

  • Duke and Duchess of Sussex have paid tribute to heroes helping bushfire crisis
  • They shared Instagram post on Australia day honouring the country’s ‘strength
  • Charities were mentioned for raising money for wildlife and bushfire victims
  • Australia’s death toll for the 2019-2020 bushfire season stands at 33  

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have paid tribute to Australia’s ‘strength of spirit and generosity of community’ as the country continues to grapple with the bushfire crisis.  

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared a series of heroic tales on Australia Day, praising people coming together in the wake of the deadly fire season.

‘Today, on Australia Day, we recognise the strength of spirit and generosity of the community Down Under,’ they wrote on Instagram.

‘Sharing above a selection of stories of how you’ve come together in the face of such adversity. You are an inspiration to us all.’ 

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (pictured together) have paid tribute to Australian heroes who were able to overcome adversity in the wake of devastating bushfires

Taking to Instagram, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared a string of stories of individuals and groups who had made an impact on the bushfire crisis

In the post, Prince Harry and Meghan mentioned six-year-old Owen Colley from Hingham, Massachusetts, who raised more than $277,000 for Wildlife Rescue South Coast.

Owen was ‘devastated’ to hear of the bushfire crisis in Australia, where his father is from, so he began making clay koalas that would be sent to every person who donated $50 or more.

‘Like so many of us, Owen was devastated when he heard of the Australian bushfires, so we wanted to provide an outlet for him to feel like he could do something to help,’ Owen’s parents wrote on a GoFundMe page.

‘He’s a huge animal lover and has been making clay characters for a while, so together we thought up the clay koala and offered it to friends and family as a ‘thank you’ for donations for bushfire-affected animals.’

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also mentioned the efforts of Australians to knit mittens for koalas which had been badly burnt in the fires.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) launched a public appeal in a bid to get cotton-made mittens which help protect their wounds.

The injured animals typically come into care with severe burns, especially on their paws, caused by contact with burning trees or from fleeing across fire grounds. 

A koala is being treated at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital after suffering severe burns from fires

On top of this, $7million has been donated through a GoFundMe page to help the animals on behalf of the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. 

Prince Harry and Meghan also paid tribute to Australian aircraft that dropped food and water to starving livestock. 

The New South Wales government started doing food-drops earlier this month, trickling thousands of kilograms of carrots and sweet potato from above to feed the state’s colonies of brush-trailed rock wallabies.

Charity Animals Australia was also using aircraft to drop food off to wildlife in fire ravaged areas in regional Victoria. 

Pictured: The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service delivering vegetables to starving livestock

A young woman who started the brand, Find A Bed was also mentioned in the Instagram post.

New South Wales woman, Erin Riley, set up the foundation that connects people who have been displaced due to bushfires to others that have a spare bed or room in their home – at no cost.

The post also shared the story of Raj Gupta, who runs a pharmacy in New South Wales’ South Coast.

A rock wallaby is seen eating a carrot that had been dropped by aircraft 

Mr Gupta lost his own home due to bushfires but refused to close his store in Malua Bay. 

He allowed his patients to access their medication despite having no money to pay as the community faced massive power outages.

He said he trusted the community to pay when they could.

The Queen and Prince William also referenced the country’s bushfire crisis and praised Australians for how they were handling it.

‘Wishing you all a happy Australia Day! This Australia Day, we commend the incredible resilience and strength of the Australian people,’ The Queen’s read.

Her statement included a collage of four photos from her royal visits to Australia over the years.

Kensington Palace, which provides statements from Prince William and his wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, was along the same lines.

‘This year we pay tribute to the incredible strength and resilience of all the Australian people and communities who have been impacted by the devastating bushfires,’ it read. 

Fires have torn through Australia over the summer season with the death toll standing at 33.

More than 12 million hectares have been burnt while more than one billion animals have reportedly perished in the blazes. 

RFS firefighters extinguish a fire on a property in Moruya in NSW’s South Coast 

2019/2020 FIRE SEASON DEATH TOLL

The national death toll in Australia’s 2019/2020 bushfire season was 33 as of Friday, January 25, with 25 confirmed deaths in New South Wales, three in South Australia and five in Victoria. 

OCTOBER

New South Wales: 

Robert Lindsey, 77, and Gwen Hyde, 68, were found in their burned out Coongbar home near Casino on October 9th. 

NOVEMBER

New South Wales:

The body of 85-year-old George Nole was found in a burnt out car near his home in Wytaliba, near Glen Innes.

Vivian Chaplain, a 69-year-old woman from Wytaliba, succumbed to her injuries in hospital after attempting in vain to save her home and animals from the blaze.

The body of 63-year-old Julie Fletcher was pulled from a scorched building in Johns River, north of Taree. 

Barry Parsons, 58, was found in a shed at Willawarrin, near Kempsey.

Chris Savva, 64, died after his 4WD overturned near burnt-out South Arm bridge, near Nambucca Heads.

A 59-year-old man was founded sheltered in a Yarrowitch water tank on November 7. He died of injuries on December 29.  

Victoria: 

David Moresi, 69, died after being involved in a traffic incident while working at the at the Gelantipy fire in East Gippsland on November 30. 

DECEMBER

New South Wales:   

Firefighters Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, and Geoffrey Keaton, 32, died on December 19 after a tree fell on their truck while they were travelling through Buxton, south of Sydney.

Samuel McPaul, 28, was battling a blaze in Jingellic, in Green Valley, about 70km east of Albury on the border of NSW and Victoria, on December 30 when a ‘fire tornado’ caused his 10-tonne firetruck to roll. 

South Australia:

The body of 69-year-old Ron Selth was found in his Charleston home, which was destroyed by the Cudlee Creek blaze on December 21. 

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIRES 

New South Wales: 

Dairy farmer Patrick Salway, 29, and his father Robert, 63, died trying to save their property in Cobargo, near Bega, on December 31. 

A 70-year-old man, named by local media as Laurie Andrew, was found dead outside a home at Yatte Yattah, west of Lake Conjola.

The body of a 70-year-old man was found in a burnt vehicle on a road off the Princes Highway at Yatte Yattah on the morning of New Year’s Day.

The body of a 62-year-old man was found in a vehicle on Wandra Road at Sussex Inlet about 11.30am on New Year’s Day.

A body, believed to be a 56-year-old man, found outside a home at Coolagolite, east of Cobargo on New Year’s Day.

An off-duty RFS firefighter, believed to be 72-year-old Colin Burns, was found near a car in Belowra after the New Year’s Eve fires swept through. 

Victoria: 

Beloved great-grandfather Mick Roberts, 67, from Buchan, in East Gippsland, was found dead at his home on the morning of New Year’s Day. 

Fred Becker, 75, was the second person to die in Victoria. He suffered a heart attack while trying to defend his Maramingo Creek home.

JANUARY

New South Wales:

David Harrison, a 47-year-old man from Canberra, suffered a heart attack defending his friend’s home near Batlow on Saturday, January 4. 

A 71-year-old man was found on January 6. Police have been told the man was last sighted on December 31, 2019 and was moving equipment on his property in Nerrigundah.

An 84-year-old man who stayed to defend his home in Cobargo, NSW, dies in hospital three weeks after fire hit. His pet dog Bella, who stayed by his side as fires raged, was also killed in the disaster.

Three American firefighters are killed when Coulson Aviation C-130 Hercules water bomber Zeus crashed while fighting fires near Cooma on Thursday January 23. They have been named as Capt. Ian H. McBeth, 44, First Officer Paul Clyde Hudson and Flight Engineer Rick A. DeMorgan Jr, 43.

On January 24, Michael Clark, 59, was found in a Bodalla home destroyed by bushfires near the NSW South Coast town of Moruya. 

Victoria:

Forest Fire Management firefighter Mat Kavanagh, 43, was killed Friday January 3 when he was involved in a two-car crash on the Goulburn Valley Highway.

Bill Slade, a 60-year-old father of two from Wonthaggi was fighting fires with Parks Victoria at Omeo when he died on January 11. He has been remembered as one of the longest serving, most experienced and fittest firefighters.  

South Australia: 

Well-known outback pilot Dick Lang, 78, and his 43-year-old son, Adelaide surgeon Clayton Lang, died in the Kangaroo Island bushfire after their car was trapped by flames.  

 

 

 

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