General, Stories and Articles

2011 Stock Up For Hope Charity Drove

It was the year of the Outback 2006, and a significant year for Duncan Brown, who was at the time CEO of Scripture Union in QLD. Drought was affecting many areas of QLD, and Duncan was deeply impacted by a spate of death by suicide of parents in rural areas. He was equally concerned about the repercussions in the lives of young people, which strengthened his desire and resolve to see Christian chaplains placed in schools in regional QLD.

Duncan had already met with Dave Peake, SU‘s Outback Regional Coordinator, a compassionate man with a heart for the welfare of kids in the bush. Three years earlier, they’d established Chaplaincy in the Bush. However, cash strapped communities were struggling to make the dream of a chaplain in remote schools a reality.

Churches and communities in the bush were rallying together, expressing an urgent need for the concept of Chaplaincy in schools to be implemented. As Duncan struggled with ways in which the situation could be addressed, a visionary idea emerged; an idea to ask cattle producers for donations of live cattle. It wasn’t new. Producers had been “tithing” livestock for years, but Duncan saw the opportunity to do it in a coordinated way on a state-wide scale.

Duncan had been a journalist for the Queensland Country Life (QCL) newspaper, and had a valued personal and professional relationship with Stan Wallace, QCL‘s iconic livestock commentator. Stan was willing to host a breakfast meeting of leaders from the cattle industry, including Stanbroke, AACO, Elders and Landmark.

Duncan recalls “the tremendous energy in the room” and the Chaplaincy concept received a kick start into reality, and from there gained momentum. A memorable question from Duncan’s Dad, Michael (dairy farmer turned property developer), “Why not drove the cattle?” completed the initial round up of innovative proposals, and the Stock Up for Hope Charity Drove was underway.

Since then, a number of corporate bodies including Medibank, Santos, Rio Tinto, Telstra, Vanderfield, Coles, Martins, Stanbroke and many others, have aligned themselves with Stock Up for Hope, and along with the support of cattle producers, business groups, and individuals, the necessary funding for Chaplaincy has been forthcoming

In 2007, the stock route near Blackall was the scene of the first Stock Up for Hope Charity Cattle Drive. Landmark and Elders were prepared to buy cattle at market price, with 20% of proceeds going to Chaplaincy. That first mob consisted of two hundred donated, and one thousand bought head of cattle.

There were a few paying guests on the drove, and the other main event was a Gala Dinner and auction at Blackall. Tickets for the dinner sold out within a week, and Duncan reflects on the popularity and success of that, and subsequent dinners . “There is something about the social event that is extremely attractive; it brings together a fascinating range of stake holders. What other event has mining executives, bankers, ministers, politicians, cattle producers, business people, kids, parents and chaplains all coming together? For a season it focuses everyone on their greatest asset…. young people.”

In 2009, the Drove was held on the stock routes near Roma, and in 2011, 399 donated head of cattle were driven from Bauhinia to the Emerald Sale Yards. The Gala Dinner was held in an open paddock, under the stars and an almost full moon, on Kimbo and Karen Mayne’s property, ‘Wild Horse’ near Rolleston Central QLD. The Carnarvon Ranges provided a magnificent backdrop, the meal was delicious, and people were treated to a unique experience, which included a lively auction of donated items, and excellent musical entertainment from Carter and Carter; with all the monies going to QLD School Chaplaincy. Locals also engaged in a smorgasbord of other events, from Bush vs. City chef camp oven cook offs, to camp drafts; which attracted a raft of celebrities and the nations top 20 open riders. In addition, a Battle of the Schools Family Day was held in Capella in October.

During the Drove, numbers of corporate people and their invited guests, paying guests, and experienced support riders, joined the official drovers at various stages along the route. All horse riders were assessed and given a horse to match their riding ability, and for two or three days, they would set off each morning with the drovers, the cattle, and support riders, arriving at the next campsite in the afternoon.

Some of the attractions of the Stock Up for Hope Cattle Drove are as follows:
• Great food – BBQ, Camp Oven, and served with a smile.
• After dinner campfire yarns and entertainment; music, mini auctions, turtle races, and hearing encouraging accounts from school chaplains of their work in schools within the area.
• Meeting new people from all walks of life.
• Riding through some interesting and beautiful country.
• Helping to raise money for Chaplaincy in QLD schools

Duncan, and events co-ordinator Brent Sweeny, plus a committed team of supporters, have a united vision to see a Christian chaplain in every government school in regional QLD. Chaplains work alongside teachers to provide support for all students, and particularly those who are dealing with issues and/or problems in their lives. The biannual Stock Up for Hope Charity Cattle Drove is an effective way to mobilise people in the bush by asking them to be co-architects in the drove. Duncan is convinced that “people in the bush know there are issues with their kids, and are ready and willing to get behind moves to deal with the problem. The Stock Up for Hope Cattle Drove provides a tangible vehicle to make it happen.”

Several times during the 2011 Drove, chaplains joined participants around the campfire, to share their experiences. Apart from involvement with sporting events and other school based activities, chaplains are there to listen, and give support to individual students who are going through tough times. Some
accounts are deeply moving, and a common theme is the positive impact that chaplains have by simply “being there” for troubled students.

So, to all participants in the Stock Up for Hope Cattle Drove, as you might sometimes painfully discover bones and muscles you didn’t even know you had, you are, have been, and will be ambassadors for a most worthy cause. There is hope for young people, and by supporting Stock Up for Hope we can join with Duncan Brown “to get the message out.

Duncan Brown
Director – Stock up for Hope
Duncan Brown is currently Snr Pastor of New Peninsular Baptist Church in Victoria. He is married to Trish, and they have three children; Emily, Jack and Laura. He worked as a journalist with the Queensland Country Life, and held the position of associate editor of the Herald and Weekly Times. He was CEO of Scripture Union, QLD for five years, and is currently chairman of Capacity Builders, which is the umbrella organisation for Stock Up for Hope. Capacity Builders is a small network of gifted Christian consultants, providing expertise in strategic planning, branding, marketing and fundraising.

The thing that drives Duncan is “the vision to see Christian chaplains in every school in regional QLD.” He holds that vision very tightly, but holds lightly the means by which the vision is achieved.

Brent Sweeny
Events Coordinator & Camp Cook
Brent Sweeny was the “camp cook extraordinaire” for the 2009 and 2011 Stock Up for Hope Cattle Droves, and has increasingly taken more responsibility in the organisation, management and coordination of each Drove.

Brent has a long history of involvement with Scripture Union, and friendship with Duncan Brown. He is Senior Pastor of Brackenridge Baptist Church, Brisbane, and is married to Rachael. They have two boys, Jack and Harry, and two foster children, Beau and Elsie.

Ten years of Brent’s childhood was spent in rural New Zealand at the Southern end of the South Island, on a sheep and dairy farm (“Brrrrr!”). Brent claims that’s where he learned to enjoy hard work, and “hooking in.” He loved “working with stock, all things practical, and simply being in the country. I feel at home on the land.” When his parents shifted to Auckland to run a Youth Hostel, Brent experienced “another formative time; observing my parents’ commitment to other people, and learning that “life is not just about you.” He came to Brisbane at age sixteen, and has been there ever since.

Along with Duncan and the Stock Up for Hope team, he shares the vision to see more Christian chaplains placed in regional QLD schools. Brent sees the Stock Up for Hope Drove as “a unique thing. It ticks lots of boxes in terms of bringing people together, and in providing an opportunity for corporate Australians to experience a bit of life in the bush.”

During the Charity Drove, some yummy meals were served from the Barbeque, camp ovens, and the giant wok, and Brent was the Master Chef. The most commonly used word we heard around the camp, and particularly the dining area, was ‘ambience’ ( A favourite of support worker, Kelvin Wuttke.) We shall remember, with ambient satisfaction, the ambient ambience of Brent’s “Outback Restaurant.”

Lyle’s encounter with the Stock up For Hope Charity Drove
It was a privilege and a pleasure to be part of Stock Up for Hope 2011. Kent Saddlery had already been involved as sponsors in 2007 and 2009, and during planning for the 2011 Drove, Duncan asked if we could supply saddles and a full kit for the corporate riders and guests. We were happy to say “yes.”

I contacted the managers of a number of Cattle Stations that use our saddles, and asked if they had any spare saddles which we could borrow for the Drove. We are very thankful for the generosity of the following station managers, who willingly loaned their Kent Station Saddles for the 2011 Drove.

• Zac Duff – Armraynald Station
• Angus Reins – Caldervale Station
• Darcy Sutton – Coolullah Station
• John Powell – Coorabulka Station
• Dave Doyle – Kynuna Station
• Rob Jansen – Marion Downs
• Anthony Desreaux – Monkira Station
• Michael Harper – Redford Station

Their generosity meant we were able to provide 17 Saddles for the Drove, and together with a riding kit of bridle, halter, and saddle pad, each rider was adequately fitted out for the duration of the Drove.

I was given the task of selecting suitable saddles, and assisting the riders in saddling their horses. Most participants were novice riders, so each morning was a very busy, and sometimes entertaining time.

The horses that were generously loaned for the drove were the best types for the purpose. Most were pretty well “bombproof,” and the job of choosing a horse to suit the riding abilities of the participants was made a lot easier with the supervision of experienced horse assessor, Mark Douglas.

When I was young, I spent five years doing a lot of horse work on cattle stations, then full time involvement with farming, saddling, and travelling, has meant that I’ve spent very little time n horseback during the last 42 years. It was great to spend a couple of weeks riding in one of our saddles, and yes, it was very comfortable! I’m already looking forward to the 2013 Stock Up for Hope, and hoping to so some more horse riding in the meantime.

Image captions:

1) Lyle assisting one of the riders

2) Riders swapping stories at the end of the day

3) Some of the great camp fire entertainment

4) Drove director Duncan Brown

5) Brent and the team preparing an evening meal

6) All the Kent Saddles that were generously loaned for the Stock Up for Hope Charity Drove

7) Lyle enjoying the Drove