Generous support for dialysis service

ANYONE who has met Lynette Mayo would testify that she is well deserving of a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Despite insisting that she hasn't done anything special, the modest community activist was part of a team that saw Taree receive its first community dialysis centre, she ran the Hub markets for 10 years, actively helps out fundraising for different charities, supports the Manning Wallamba Family History Society and currently lends her sewing skills to create rugs for cancer patients.

But Lyn maintains that she just "enjoys helping people," and admitted that she was slightly embarrassed when she found out she would be one of the recipients of an OAM this year.

Lyn, grew up in the Manning Valley and has lived here all her life. Together with husband Don, she has two children and are surrounded by other family and friends in the area, who all agree that Lyn deserves every bit of praise she gets, even if she's not comfortable with it.

After the birth of her daughter, Lyn began having kidney problems and after different types of treatments, a repair operation was performed.

It was during this time that she began attending meetings of the Mid North Coast Kidney Association and here she would meet Nita Reed who was driving a push for a community dialysis centre in Taree.

Lyn's own kidney problems would see her needing dialysis which meant driving to Newcastle for the treatment, as Manning Hospital's machines were strictly for emergency use and not to be used by locals at the time.

"It was a really difficult time for people in the Manning who desperately needed the service," explained Lyn.

"Nita's dream became all our dreams and although we were a small group we started working towards getting the unit."

Lyn can remember speaking with different community leaders during their campaign but always getting the same response, 'it's a good idea but it will never happen.'

"That only made us more determined," she laughed.

One thing the group learnt was that they had a better chance of getting everything together if they had somewhere to put the centre.

"We had originally wanted it to be at the hospital but at the time they weren't interested so we found the house at Chatham and began fundraising," Lyn said.

"We were $30,000 short of the total for the house but we were able to secure an interest free loan from a local woman who knew Nita and amazingly after we'd given her back $20,000 she generously donated the remaining $10,000 to us.

"We were so fortunate, we worked really, really hard but we also had some very generous people assist and support us."

Once they had the house though, funding the much-needed dialysis machines was going to take a huge effort.

It was at this time that the group took over the running of Taree's Hub markets, with Lyn at the helm.

For 10 years she would be up and at the showground by 4am to be organised for the day's markets. She was in charge of running the whole operation, from the stallholder's sites, to payment and settling any disagreements.

It was a mammoth task for her, but one she poured herself into and completed with love and care.

The Hub was a great contributor to the cause and soon the group had struck a deal with the company that manufactured the dialysis machines, to have nine machines installed, at a cost of $25,000 each, with the group working to pay off the loan at $8000 a month.

"We held street stalls, raffles, wherever we could we would fundraise," said Lyn.

"But we also used the money to continue helping people in the kidney association where we could, including subsidising travel and trip costs for dialysis appointments in Newcastle. That was still important to us, to help where we could."

It took 12 years, from the first days of campaigning, to buying the house and having the appropriate machinery installed, but amazingly a small group of volunteers, with Lyn and Nita driving them, were able to see their dream come to fruition.

Eventually protocol and the task of running the centre in accordance with all laws and regulations, became too big a task for the volunteers on their own and the group was forced to hand over the centre to the health department.

The Nita Reed Dialysis Centre will always hold a special place in Lyn's heart, this much is evident when she speaks about it.

"Those were the best days of my life," she smiled.

"After the initial shock wore off of running the Hub, I really enjoyed it, all of it.

"We put everything into it and I'll always be proud of our efforts.

"Overall it was a fantastic group of people, all with the same goal who all got along so well and I really don't think I did any more than anyone else involved," she added modestly.

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