Royal Far West offers lifeline for family from country NSW

Kristy Russell, Warren, with her children Duncan, 5, and Amy, 16.
Kristy Russell, Warren, with her children Duncan, 5, and Amy, 16.

At first, country mum Kristy Russell didn’t want to believe her son Duncan needed extra care.

But five-year-old Duncan has flourished thanks to speech therapy and other paediatric support, including residential visits to children’s charity Royal Far West at its beachside centre in Manly.

“It’s been a real help,” Ms Russell, from Warren in country NSW, said. “It opens your eyes up, especially to see other children in the same situation. At first, I was scared I didn’t want to believe that Duncan needed the extra attention but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“I’m glad I’m involved now and Duncan loves it. He’s changed heaps, while he might still be shy with others he’s really coming out of his shell.” 

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Ms Russell said that without Royal Far West it would have been difficult for her family to find the services they needed for Duncan.

Dubbo is the closest town to have speech and early intervention help, and it’s about an hour and a half from Warren.

“I have been going to Dubbo for treatment as well,” she said. “But just to get there once a week for shopping is hard enough.”

They have had three visits to Royal Far West at Manly, where they come every six months for a week at a time.

Angel Flight organises travel for the family from Warren, 16-year-old daughter Amy came along on the latest visit, and they spend the week seeing doctors and going to therapy sessions – as well as seeing some of the local sights.

“I don’t look at it as doctors and appointments just for Duncan, I look at it as a little getaway from the bush, for some people this is the only chance they’ll get to see the beach,” Ms Russell said.

She said Royal Far West opened up a support network and everybody she met during her time in Manly was helpful and friendly.

“You get access to all the specialists and it’s not daunting like you’d think it would be. Everybody is laid back and friendly.”