FOSTER has lived up to its reputation as a friendly town, treating the Daniher brothers and the other sporting greats who turned up with ‘Daniher’s Drive’ to a warm welcome last Saturday.
Foster was Day Three of ‘Daniher’s Drive,’ the four-day road trip extravaganza (Melbourne to the high country and back via Gippsland) designed to raise awareness and much-needed funds to find a cure for Motor Neurone Disease (MND), with which footy legend Neale Daniher was diagnosed in 2013.
The group set out on October 13 from Bulleen in Melbourne’s north-east, heading for the high country of Mansfield, Bright and Mt Hotham and a fundraising dinner at Dinner Plain. Day Two saw them at Omeo, Bruthen and Lakes Entrance, followed by a fundraising dinner in Sale. After Foster, Daniher’s Drive was headed for lunch at Inverloch, then Wonthaggi, San Remo and Cowes, and home to Melbourne. By Monday, over $1 million had been raised, “and we’re still counting!” reported a delighted Jan Daniher.
Numbering 200 plus, Daniher’s Drive rolled into Foster, in specially marked cars and one big coach, just before 11 on Saturday, in time for morning tea in Foster’s main hall.
‘Friendly Foster’ is the tagline promoted by the Foster Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the chamber made certain it was that on Saturday. The superb cooks from the South Gippsland Hospital Auxiliary were roped in to provide a scrumptious morning tea for the Daniher’s Drive contingent, and a big crowd of locals turned up to meet the Daniher brothers (Neale, Anthony, Terry and Chris) and other sporting greats, including cricketer Shane Watson, who was accompanied by his dad, Bob.
They were a very obliging lot, happy to stop for a friendly chat with the locals, sign posters and pose for photographs.
John Davies, from the Chamber of Commerce, said later that Shane, a New South Welshman, had told him he was visiting regional Victoria for the first time and loved the opportunity to meet the locals and get a taste of community life.
“Foster was fantastic!” said Jan Daniher. “We really appreciated the morning tea and it was great to have a look at the farmers’ market next to the hall. I was even given a tomato plant to take home and plant in my garden!”
The Daniher’s Drive contingent rattled tins while they were in Foster, and many of the locals gave generously. The hospital auxiliary ladies sold some of their home-made biscuits and donated the proceeds to the Cure for MND Foundation, and representatives of the Foster Football Netball Club made a cheque presentation to Neale Daniher.
Among the crowd were members of David Richards’ family. The long-time local sadly succumbed to MND, and Neale acknowledged the family and their loss – and at their request posed for photos with them.
In the packed foyer of the Foster War Memorial Arts Centre, Neale gave a brief speech, thanking the hospital auxiliary ladies for the morning tea and thanking Foster at large for the warm welcome given to Daniher’s Drive.
“There’s lots of love in Foster,” he smiled. “We take it all! Thank you very much.”
For anyone wanting a slice of regional community life, Saturday was a good day to be in Foster. As well as the Prom Country Farmers’ Market in the grounds of the FWMAC, the Corner Inlet Anglican Parish fete was in full swing a little way up Station Road (see photos page 17), with a garage sale on at Manna Gum Community House across the road. There was more going on at the hall. The Hospital Auxiliary ladies had to confine their morning tea for the Daniher’s Drive contingent to the supper rooms and foyer, because the main hall was set up for the current FAMDA production, ‘Australia Day’ (see review page 14). Certainly, it was all happening in Foster!