Orphans' fund reaches $75,000

Emergency workers in action during last week’s drownings at South Ballina Beach.
Emergency workers in action during last week’s drownings at South Ballina Beach. WESTPAC LIFE SAVER RESCUE HELICOPTER

AS JOE and Carole Sherry’s three children prepare for their parents’ funeral in Parramatta next week, Australians touched by the tragedy have opened their hearts and their wallets.

The Sherry Orphan Family Appeal yesterday passed $75,000 as people reached out to offer support.

Meanwhile, hundreds of heartfelt tributes have poured on to a memorial page set up on Facebook, the social network website.

Katherine Plint, founder of Hannah’s Foundation, which is facilitating the national appeal established by Lismore police, described the response as amazing.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “Inspector Greg Moore from Lismore police contacted me the day after the tragedy he was so concerned for the kids.

“He and the officers from Lismore have gone above and beyond the call of duty.”

The Sherry children flew back to Sydney last week and are staying with their grandmother, Sylvia.

Ms Plint passed on the gratitude of the Sherry family to the people who had donated to the fund, and to all the emergency services involved in the rescue attempt.

Mr and Mrs Sherry entered the surf to rescue their two youngest children, Elise and Nicholas, at South Ballina Beach last week when they were caught in a rip as the tide changed.

Elise and Nicholas managed to make it to shore on their own, but their parents were sucked out and drowned.

After raising the alarm, the children watched helplessly as emergency services, including the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter and the Ballina Rescue Jet Boat, pulled their parents from the water, trying in vain to resuscitate them.

On Sunday another parent drowned at a NSW South Coast beach trying to save his children.

Ms Plint issued an emotional plea yesterday, begging people to be vigilant at the beach today.

“Australians love to gather near water and Australia Day is a notorious day for drownings,” she said.

“Let’s make Australia Day drowning free. Swim between the flags, supervise children near water, and if you are boating wear a vest.

“Never swim alone, and remember, alcohol and water never mix.”

Hannah’s Foundation was established in 2008 by Ms Plint and her husband Andrew to raise awareness and support the families of drowning victims following the tragic loss of their own child, Hannah, in a backyard pool accident in 2007.

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