Ronald McDonald House has just celebrated their 30th anniversary, having first opened their doors in April 1991 in Newcastle NSW. The charity organisation has been keeping families of seriously ill children together and supported ever since.
In 2008, Tamworth’s very own Ronald McDonald House was the second in Northern NSW to open.
Ronald McDonald House Northern NSW CEO, Ross Bingham, said the opening of the Tamworth House was “an amazing accomplishment” and one “he will never forget”, with the house coming to life over one busy weekend of work.
Ronald McDonald House has supported 87,000 families across the northern NSW region in last 30 years of operation. Ross Bingham said “the impact across the New England region has been quite significant”. Roughly 130 different families from Tamworth travel to the Family Room at John Hunter Hospital when receiving treatment at the Children’s Hospital.
Tamworth Ronald McDonald House provides a warm, safe, and supportive ‘home away from home’ for over 150 different families a year, whose children are receiving treatment at Tamworth Hospital. Some of these families have stayed in Tamworth’s House up to 260 times in one year. Manager of Tamworth’s Ronald McDonald House, Rhiannon Curtis, says the families that visit are “so deeply grateful”.
“Most families travel over 100 kilometres from home to Tamworth Hospital and are able to stay close to their children by staying with us at Ronald McDonald House for a duration of time” said Rhiannon.
Since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Rhiannon says Tamworth’s House has been as busy as ever with “4 to 5 families consistently staying”. Volunteers have returned, and “they are the heart of the house, they keep the house going”.
“Having the volunteers come back has been really beneficial for the families”.
“Across northern NSW we have all of this support that helps families through their whole journey. From community donations of toiletries and clothes, to people cooking meals” said Rhiannon.
A grant from Greater Charitable Foundation has allowed for weekly tutor programs to take place at the house, which “helps children stay connected and on track, so they don’t feel like they’re missing out or falling behind”.
RM Family Retreat in Forster is a holiday destination, supported by a team of passionate volunteers and led by Rhiannon, where families can go and spend precious time together to make fond memories and enjoy some peace and quiet.
“For some families, it’s the first holiday they have ever had together” said Rhiannon.
Pictured: 92.9FM Host JB with Ronald McDonald at the 10th Anniversary of Tamworth's Ronald McDonald House celebration in 2018.