UNE staff help get local charity back on the road

Published 09 September 2009


A local charity is back on the road, following a timely donation from KG Motors and the staff of the University of New England.

Paws Up is a program for disadvantaged boys, who are given a Border Collie to look after and train under supervision. Eight local boys are involved with the program, which is coordinated by youth worker Bernie Shakeshaft.

The boys have been competing all over Australia in dog high jumping. They are now the national champions, having won at Casterton Elite Dog Jumping Championships in June this year, taking out the Australian title and second place. In wet and difficult conditions “Zorro” (pictured here with his trainer David Boney), with a jump of 8ft 2in, and “Girl”, at 8ft, defeated last year’s champion kelpie “Rosie”, who stopped at 7ft 8in.

The program suffered a setback, however, when the ute used to drive the boys to competitions “died”.

Fortunately, help was close at hand. Along with the Salvation Army, Paws Up was one of two local charities destined to receive funds from the University of New England Celebration of Sharing, a yearly fundraiser that sees university staff raise money for local charities.

The UNE Marketing Directorate of the University recently launched the 2009 Celebration with a charity art auction that raised almost $5000. With the blessing of the UNE Vice Chancellor, Prof Alan Pettigrew, MPA arranged to release part of the proceeds of the auction as a down-payment on a new ute, generously provided at cost by Vince Lawrence, proprietor of KG Motors.

Mr Lawrence also offered to make the necessary repairs to get the car roadworthy at no charge. “Given the heavy travel schedule to compete with the dogs at shows, championships and events both locally and inter-State,” he said, “it is essential they have a reliable vehicle. We were pleased to help them out with a discount on purchasing the utility and some repair work.”

Professor Pettigrew presented Bernie Shakeshaft with a cheque for $2,480 at a ceremony outside UNE’s “Booloominbah” last Thursday (3 September). He said he was pleased that the University was able to join Mr Lawrence in supporting the program.

Professor Pettigrew congratulated Mr Shakeshaft on his work with the boys – and the boys on their work with the dogs – saying the Paws Up program was “a fantastic testament to what can be done by the human spirit”.

In accepting the cheque, Mr Shakeshaft said he was grateful to the whole community for its support. “We travel all over the countryside,” he said, “and everywhere we go people are just bowled over by how well the boys handle their dogs.”

“In most shows we dominate the top five positions,” he said. “And cheques like this will make sure we’re here into the future.”

After the presentation, the young men showed off the spectacular jumping skills of their dogs – including the National Champion, “Zorro”.

Members of the audience at the presentation ceremony and the dog-jumping demonstration donated a further $100 to Paws Up.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of the national champion “Zorro” and his trainer David Boney displayed here expands to include Professor Alan Pettigrew (left) and Bernie Shakeshaft.