COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Leander Russell (centre) is undergoing surgery to remove and reconstruct both her breasts. She is being aided by the fundraising efforts of (back from left) Bangalow Lions Club treasurer Ben Hills, Donna Jarrett, (front Sharon Rudgley and Sandra Harding.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Leander Russell (centre) is undergoing surgery to remove and reconstruct both her breasts. She is being aided by the fundraising efforts of (back from left) Bangalow Lions Club treasurer Ben Hills, Donna Jarrett, (front Sharon Rudgley and Sandra Harding. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Bangalow community raises thousands of dollars to help widow

THE BANGALOW community has again proved itself as a phenomenal support network, following the successful Love Leander campaign that raised more than $15,000 for a widowed Bangalow mother facing a double mastectomy.

When friends of Leander Russell realised she would need support to get through the heartbreaking surgery to remove and reconstruct both breasts to reduce her cancer risk, they rallied behind her and organised a Christmas in July dinner at the Moller Pavilion.

"We sold 172 tickets and with raffles, auctions and donations have raised over $15,000 for Leander," said her friend, Bang Burger Bar owner Sandra Harding.

"It was a great turnout and we really want to thank the spirit and generosity of the Bangalow business community in their donations," she said.

Donations can still be made to help Leander

One of the highlights of the auction was the bidding for the services of the new chef of Utopia, Glen Mason, who donated his time to cook for the successful bidder using produce from a $150 voucher donated by the Bangalow Farmers' Market and a $100 voucher from Barcoo Beef.

Leander is now in Sydney undergoing surgery and will be in recovery for 12 weeks, Ms Harding said.

Her reconstruction surgery is using the same procedure used on actress Angelina Jolie when she underwent a double mastectomy earlier this year.

Ms Russell has agreed to be part of an awareness-raising SBS documentary and will also donate tissue to research. "She feels that is her way of giving something back to the world through this experience," Ms Harding said.

"She is in great spirits and she felt so nurtured by the dinner night.

"She has been able to go into surgery feeling as best she can and that will be good for her healing.

"She knows she has the support of the whole town."

Donations can still be made to help Leander.

The Bangalow Lions Club has set up a Summerland Credit Union account.

TO DONATE

Account name: Bangalow Lions Club

BSB 728 728

A/C 22212240

Ref: Leander


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