The new year started on a high for most south-west Victorians this week after record crowds celebrated the end of 2018 at a variety of events.
But the happiness and optimism has not extended to two families in the region after heartbreaking tragedies.
Earlier this week we reported Port Fairy was in mourning for 11-year-old schoolboy Xavier Cassidy, who died after an asthma attack. On Wednesday, Darcy Membrey, a cheeky, bubbly two-year-old, died after a two-tonne fertiliser bin fell on him in an accident on a Naringal dairy farm.
Our thoughts are with both families.
It’s impossible to imagine what these families are experiencing but our nature is to want to help in some way. Our words can be powerful, our actions even more so.
The south-west is a tight knit community. We might not know all our neighbours but in times like these we have a history of rallying behind those who need it most. We only need to look at last March's St Patrick’s Day fires which devastated parts of the region. We donated clothes, volunteered to help clean-up, built fences, cooked, listened and wrapped our arms around victims. We raised money, we staged events to help brighten their lives.
This week the south-west community has again rallied.
Travis Membrey, the father of little Darcy, was stunned with the support he and wife Sasha and their immediate family received. Xavier’s family too.
The outpouring of support and sympathy has been immense. Our Facebook page has been flooded with goodwill messages.
The support will be important in the days, weeks and months ahead as the families come to terms with the events of this week. It will even more important it continues. It is the least we can do.
At the end of such a tragic week, we are left with the sombre thought that we should never take a day with loved ones for granted. Hug your children, your partner, parents and grandparents and collectively wrap your arms around the Membrey and Cassidy families.
Our thoughts are with you.