Oddfellows head to Narrabri to inject some money into the town's economy

Narrabri Rotary president, Julie Herbert, with Cr Kevin Schreiber.

Narrabri Rotary president, Julie Herbert, with Cr Kevin Schreiber.

Blue Mountains Ward 1 councillor Kevin Schreiber has taken his oddfellows to Narrabri to help the drought-stricken town.

Cr Schreiber is the Grand Treasurer of the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows in NSW.

When the lodge was looking for a venue for its annual conference and AGM, he suggested Narrabri.

Cr Schreiber said the idea was part of a state government initiative to help the economy of regional towns in NSW by encouraging groups of people to visit and stay a few days to support local businesses.

And the visit went "exceptionally well", he said.

"We had 75 members and guests who stayed for four to five days. We booked out the motels and had the conference at Narrabri RSL which was fantastic."

"I estimate that taking the conference to Narrabri would have boosted the local economy in excess of $50,000."

On one day, a bus load of them took a trip to nearby Wee Waa where they had a counter lunch at the local pub.

The woman who served them was "ecstatic that we had so many people there. She said it was wonderful to know there are people caring for us."

Narrabri Rotary president, Julie Herbert, who welcomed the IOOF delegates, said a "neighbours in need" program had been instigated in the town by Rotary after the suicide death of a 40-year-old local farmer.

The program involves barbecues and farm visits. It has 502 families registered across the town and neighbouring Boggabri and Wee Waa.

Cr Schreiber said many families in need are given EFTPOS cards which they can spend in the town, helping to keep the local economy ticking over.

The Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows dates back to the early 1800s. It was set up in days before welfare or national health to provide help to members and communities when they need it.

Oddfellows are non-profit mutual organisations owned by their members. All income is passed back to the members in the form of services and benefits. They also raise funds for charities and local causes.

Earlier this year Manchester Unity IOOF of NSW donated $10,000 to a Rotary-organised drought appeal, with a provision that it be spent in western NSW towns.

And the IOOF has decided to send any money raised in the next two years to the Rotary drought appeal.

Cr Schreiber told the Gazette he was actually born near Narrabri, at a tiny hamlet 25 kilometres north called Edgeroi. But when he visited on this trip, he found the few remaining properties all boarded up.