Swim star lifts family's spirits
FORMER Olympic swimming star Tracey Wickham dived into the Christmas spirit this week, giving her beloved Christmas tree and decorations to a flood-affected Bundamba family.
The family of 10 is headed by matriarch Diane Bishop, who was nominated to receive the tree in a 97.3FM promotion.
Denise Hoyle, from flood charity Families for Families, suggested the family, praising their continued strength since their home and newly built granny flat were completely submerged in the floods.
"We've looked after so many families, but Diane is outstanding - she never asks for anything even though they lost everything, and she is so grateful for any help she receives," Ms Hoyle said.
"They are so deserving of this. They've been through so much this year. The kids are loving it (the tree), and anything that makes her family happy makes Diane happy."
Ms Wickham received a warm welcome when she arrived at the home with a big tree and boxes of decorations.
The exchange was an emotional event, with Ms Wickham and Ms Bishop both shedding tears as four grandchildren excitedly decorated the tree.
But the donation was bittersweet, as Ms Wickham had decided to give away the tree after experiencing a tragedy herself.
She has not put up the tree for the past four years, since losing her daughter Hannah, 19, to cancer in 2007.
"I couldn't look at it anymore. There were just too many memories - we all used to put up the Christmas tree together," Ms Wickham said.
"I was going to sell it, but then I thought I can't do that. I'd rather give it away and pass on the joy and happiness it gave me.
"I thought about the floods, and I realised how much it could help a family who had lost everything."
Ms Bishop was overwhelmed by the gesture.
"We appreciate this so much. It's great to see the kids happy," Ms Bishop said.
"We're a very close family, and we had such a lovely Christmas last year, before all this happened. It's been tough. We still don't have a bathroom in the house, but we'll get there soon, hopefully."