Denyers' Drought-Relief Ball Raises $150K

The Bathurst community has come together to look after its own.

Hundreds of people have donned boots and ball gowns for a night to raise money to help drought-stricken farmers.

The ‘Black Tie and Boots Ball’ drew an almost sold out crowd of 670 in the New South Wales country town of Bathurst on Saturday night.

Channel Ten’s Grant Denyer hosted the ball alongside his wife Chezzi, reaching their $150,000 target to fund a rural mental health counsellor in the region with charity Rural Aid. 

READ MORE: Drought Crisis: What You Need To Know In Under Five Minutes

“The Bathurst community has come together to look after its own,” Denyer told Ten Eyewitness News on the night.

“Yes, they are hurting, they are on the brink of being broken -- like regional communities right around Australia, particularly in New South Wales and in Queensland.

“We need our farmers -- we need to look after them right now.”

Singer Guy Sebastian performed onstage at Bathurst Goldfields, as funds from raffles and auctions flooded in. Rural Aid founder Charles Alder said the charity will be able to allocate a counsellor on the ground in the next two to three weeks. 

Grant, who comes from a farming family, has lived in Bathurst with Chezzi for about four years. As the current drought sets in, they  have seen a community crumble around them, and the incidence of mental health issues rise by 70 percent.

“Farmers are very proud, humble people. They’re isolated and aren’t great at putting their hand up when they need help,” Grant told ten daily ahead of the event. 

“You can be resilient for a while. But I think this drought has dragged on for so long and has been so savage that, after a while, you just can’t hold it in anymore,” Grant said.

The Denyers have been using their platform to bring awareness to the dire nature of the drought and have been inundated with people wanting to help.

READ MORE: What's Keeping Farmers Positive Through Tough Times

Grant and Cheryl Denyer's farm on the outskirts of Bathurst in October 2016. Image: Supplied
The same burnt paddocks in July 2018. Image: Supplied

“The response has been really overwhelming,” Chezzi told ten daily.

“I think that people are finally starting to understand what people are going through, it’s good.”

There will be no slowing down for the couple in the coming months as they continue their efforts with a fundraising ball in Brisbane this September, and in Sydney this November.

If you want to help Australian farmers in need, you can donate to a registered charity. Donate online to Rural Aid's Buy a Bale, Drought Angels, Aussie Helpers or Lions' Need for Feed. You can also support farmers by buying Australian grown produce at your local supermarket.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or rural helpline Virtual Psychologist on 1300 665 234 (or send a text message to 0488 807 266) 

For further information about depression contact beyondBlue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.