A Ryman Healthcare mask making mission has given the next generation of leading Indigenous choral performers a much-needed boost in the wake of COVID-19.
Ryman Healthcare Victorian Sales and Community Relations Manager Debra Richardson said when the pandemic forced concert halls across the globe to close renowned Yorta Yorta soprano, composer, educator and Ryman village namesake, Deborah Cheetham AO spoke of the impact on the Dhungala Children’s Choir (DCC) which she formed in 2009.
“Many families (of children in the choir) were affected by the pandemic with loss of jobs and home-schooling requiring people to change the way they lived,” Debra said.
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“Deborah shared with me that some children would have to give up their musical careers during this time, and that affected me profoundly.”
Having already made about 100 masks for friends and family, Debra set herself the goal of making 500 masks to sell with the funds to be donated directly to the DCC.
“Those 500 masks quickly turned into well over 1000 masks,” she said.
Debra’s mask making marathon raised $4000 for the DCC with Ryman recognising the importance of the initiative and matching the donation.
“We hope that this helps to provide much needed funds so the children can continue their musical careers and they can continue to delight the many thousands of people they will touch with their performances along the way,” Debra said.
Deborah Cheetham and the DCC gave a rousing performance in gratitude of the donation before Debra and Ryman Healthcare Australia CEO Cameron Holland presented the $8000 cheque.
Ryman Australia CEO Cameron Holland, Yorta Yorta woman Deborah Cheetham and Ryman Healthcare Victorian Sales and Community Relations Manager Debra Richardson.
During the presentation Debra donated a further 120 masks for the choir to sell and 100 masks for choir members and their families to wear.
“My hope is that this inspires others to donate to such a worthy cause,” she said.