Donor defies own pain

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Adam PoulsenGeraldton Guardian
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Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park owner Colin Lewis has donated $20,000 to Midwest Disaster Relief each year since the charity was founded.
Camera IconEighty Mile Beach Caravan Park owner Colin Lewis has donated $20,000 to Midwest Disaster Relief each year since the charity was founded. Credit: Supplied

As a recovering alcoholic with 29 years of sobriety under his belt, Colin Lewis has a special appreciation for Midwest Disaster Relief.

The Eighty Mile Beach Caravan Park owner has been one of two of the Geraldton charity’s major donors, giving $20,000 a year for the past two decades.

“I’ve always wanted to give something back, and when I learnt they were supporting families with alcoholics who’d lost everything, I thought, ‘Here’s my opportunity’,” Mr Lewis said.

The other major donor, Sandfire Roadhouse owner Ken Norton, also donates $20,000 annually.

Midwest Disaster Relief was founded by Chris Sorohan and his wife Marian in 1999, after cyclone Vance struck Exmouth.

When times were tough for the Sorohan family, Mr Norton even bought a house for them to rent at a low cost. But he is humble about his contributions.

“Everyone’s got their own pet charities that they support,” Mr Norton said.

“You could give $10 a month to 100 different charities, or do $1000 a month to one charity.

“You’ve got to pick which ones you support and decline the rest of them.”

Mr Lewis recalled when his caravan park was isolated for 10 weeks because of severe flooding in 2000. “The only thing keeping the bailiff out was the floodwaters,” he said.

“Chris said, ‘Just stop donating to us, you need that money’. We ended up donating twice the amount that month.”

Mr Sorohan said the support of both small businesses had been “unreal”.

“These guys have really blessed us,” he said.

“They’ve continued their support, even when they couldn’t afford to.”

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