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This Is Northern New South Wales

Starlight Weekend

Recently I met Debbie Fowler who along with her husband Brett are partners in Byron Luxury Beach House’s. Debbie phoned me a couple of weeks ago to ask if Common Ground would donate some time to photograph some special families that were coming to Byron as their guests. So last weekend I had the pleasure of spending time photographing four families all in Byron Bay for a weekend away with The Starlight Foundation. Debbie and Brett and their business partners are huge supporters of The Starlight Foundation and Debbie organised every little detail to make sure these deserving families had an amazing weekend to remember……I am sure she even dialed in an order for weather as it was magical!

The families all from Brisbane arrived on Friday afternoon and were instantly blown away by their accommodation at Byron Luxury Beach Houses and with generous donations from IGA Byron Bay all the families fridges were stocked with goods, drinks etc, and a welcome pack of Byron Bay Healing Teas and Byron Bay Cookies went down a treat.

The afternoon was spent with 2 of our families including children receiving Healing Massages and Reiki Treatments. Katie Connolly Massage Therapist, donated many hours of her time and this continued on all weekend with all families absolutely loving this special time.

Saturday brought the most spectacular conditions a glorious 21c and we all made our convoy with the Starlight Van to the Lighthouse.  On arrival we were met by a lone humpback whale playing only metres off the cape.  The children were all in awe and the smiles on their faces said it all. Nathan Oliver from Cape Byron Conservation took 3 tours to the top of the lighthouse where all the families and children were treated to the most amazing experience.

The views from the top on this the clearest day in months were unbelievable.  I was fortunate enough to be entrusted with capturing these amazing moments in photos of the children and their families.

We had 4 seriously ill children, a 13 year girl Jasmina who only got out of hospital on the Thursday prior to arriving at the Beach Houses, she has suffered several strokes only a week ago.  This young lady was wheelchair bound and could barely walk unaided, unable to talk and extremely tired, had the most amazing determination and the biggest smile, I had to turn away when she made it to the top and wipe away the tears in my eyes, as did Debbie and Nathan from Cape Byron Conservation when she insisted climbing the lighthouse with her siblings to see the whales.  Another of the young girls was Jacinta 10 years old and spent 3 years fighting for her life in hospital with leukemia, she is 5 years in remission and now doing pretty well.  Sassi 8 years old also has suffered life threatening illness, an avid animal lover was over the moon to see the whales at the lighthouse. Lastly the amazing Madison who at 11 years old has suffered the loss of part of her lower leg, she tires easily but never complained about anything, truly amazing.

Nigel Stewart a local Arakwal leader shared his ancestor’s stories of Byron Bay’s history, which included tribal dance, a history lesson and songs, as well as the didgeridoo, treated us all to a fabulous display.  Nigel was simply a fantastic storyteller and the children were all fascinated and captivated by him.  I personally thought this was one of the most fantastic events I have had the pleasure of being involved in.

Peter Sinclair and the The Pass Café provided the donation of lunch for all the families on Saturday afternoon. Saturday night a small event was held with all the families and Starlight Staff and local Businesses.   Brett made a welcome speech and we were presented certificates from Starlight.  Starlight also made a speech, the event was catered by Eatdrink Catering and drinks were supplied by Glenn McCubbin from Sunrise Cellars, the entire evening was a hugh success with the children enjoying hotdogs and fish and chips, and adults mingling enjoy gourmet meal and with wine or beer and just relaxing.

Sunday again we were up early and with conditions absolutely amazing (best in months) we all headed down to Clarkes Beach to meet Kurt and Doug from Go Sea Kayaking, they generously took 22 of the family members and Starlight Staff members out to see the whales and dolphins with all families saying they had the best time.  Little Sassi  said she was blown away by the kayaking and was able to stand up in kayak as conditions were the best they had been in months on Sunday and she spotted the dolphins, it brought Doug from Go Sea Kayaking to tears, one emotional high to another.

Others enjoyed the local Byron Bay market, which was great for the families to relax and enjoy the Byron culture.  Lastly all gathered by the pool for a final photo opportunity and a chance to say our goodbyes.  Many tears of joys and heartfelt thanks to everyone at Byron Luxury Beach Houses, ensures that if they continue this event, it will certainly help many children and very grateful families in the future.