By Russell Luckock
BLAZEAID, the volunteer army that fixes fences after disasters, is an inspiring story that was started after the Black Saturday bushfires around Kilmore. For Rhonda Butler suggested to her husband Kevin that he should organise some help for the nearby locals whose farms had been burnt, just as they had been helped with re-fencing when their farm was burnt a few years earlier. So Blazeaid was born.
Rhonda’s story began in Buninyong where her parents owned the local supermarket and lived in the apartments next door. The supermarket, then in its earlier site, had a cellar with a water well that was roped off but still fascinating to youngsters. Her early education was at the Buninyong Primary School and she has fond memories of both the school and the town. A paper round had to be completed on her bicycle before school and being the oldest of the children, she had to take the toughest route up by the Masonic Lodge, past the primary school then home via Geelong Road houses. In winter this meant freezing hands, but more serious was that sometimes she was late for school – her salvation being that the Principal could hardly admonish her for she had just delivered his newspaper!
Rhonda continued her schooling at Ballarat’s Loreto College before branching out into jobs and then her marriage to Kevin. But the Buninyong connection extends there – for Kevin proposed to his bride in the Buninyong Botanic Gardens.