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Wave of support for author

Emily AceSouth Western Times
Jeni and Gus Henderson are overwhelmed by the support received from the community to help complete much needed renovations to their house.
Camera IconJeni and Gus Henderson are overwhelmed by the support received from the community to help complete much needed renovations to their house. Credit: Jon Gellweiler

Seriously ill author Gus Henderson has received an outpouring of support from the Bunbury community, with people offering labour or materials to build a deck that will allow him to access his yard.

Dr Henderson’s children had saved money for the project but the funds had to be used to pay bills.

His wife Jeni said Dr Henderson had not been able to go out into his backyard since he became unwell last year.

“He hasn’t been able to go out the back since he became unwell because our back veranda is only a metre wide, so his wheelchair doesn’t even fit on to it from the house,” she said.

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“While the weather has been like this he can’t head out to the front yard because he gets bogged in the sand.

“The backyard is nice and he has a little bird feeder out there but he hasn’t been able to get out and just has to look through the window.

“He just spends his time in that bed.”

His wife Jeni had managed to pull together a small amount of money and asked for advice on Bunbury Facebook page Ask It, Answer It on the best timber to use.

Soon, she was was inundated with offers of assistance as a “Backyard Blitz” was organised before her eyes.

“It is the most unexpected thing, it just sort of developed a life of its own – I had no control over it,” she said.

“I could never have imagined anything like this and it wasn’t my intention.

“I watched all the posts building and the plans being made.

“I cried all weekend.”

Mrs Henderson said her husband had been overwhelmed by the support.

“He can’t wait – it has been a long, cold, wet winter,” she said.

Mrs Henderson realised there has been much more to the deck than she had first realised and was thankful to have experts on board.

“There were all these other costs I didn’t know about,” she said.

“I didn’t even think about things like building permits and apparently I was going to build straight over a septic line.”

Any extra money donated over the target will be used to renovate the inside of the house to give Dr Henderson access to the kitchen, as well as install a permanent ramp in the front yard to replace a temporary metal ramp from the hospital.

“Then Gus will be able to have some autonomy about getting in and out of the house on his own, which is not something he has been able to do,” Mrs Henderson said.

Backyard Blitz volunteer organiser Carolyn Wright said a huge range of people in the community from tradespeople to suppliers and even Dr Henderson’s former students had put their hands up to help.

She said the wheels were already in motion, with a development application already lodged with the Bunbury council.

“They are the quieter people who don’t ask for the help and everyone has seen that they have both needed it more than anyone,” she said.

“For people to volunteer their time and advice is nothing compared to what Jeni and Gus have given back to the community.”

To support the effort, visit gofundme.com/bunbury-backyard-blitz.

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