Group seek funds to honour road safety campaigner
A MACKAY motoring group is seeking public donations to help build a shade shelter at a drivers' rest area in Nebo to honour the late Susan Whitehead.
Known to most as Susie, she was also known to the people of Nebo for her tireless service to the community and her commitment to improving road safety.
Now, the Road Accident Action Group (RAAG), in partnership with the Nebo Community Development Group, wants to enhance Susie's legacy by naming the rest area, complete with a shade shelter, after her.
The Nebo rest area has existed for many years and is fitted with toilets, bins and tourist information, but it has always been missing a place to sit in the shade.
Mining giant Rio Tinto and Issac Regional Council have donated $15,000 - but $25,000 is still needed to bring the project to completion.
The group now hopes to raise the money to complete the upgrade through crowdfunding.
RAAG chairman Noel Lang said they would accept any donations.
"It is a very valued and worthy project. We've got 50% of the money but we've got to get it sorted and in place by the end of this financial year or otherwise the money has to go back to the relevant organisations,” Mr Lang said.
Ann Stewart was not only Susie's partner in safety projects, but also her cousin.
She said Susie had an amazing ability to convince people to help and was ecstatic that the rest area was being dedicated to her.
"It's very worthy and all her efforts should not be forgotten. It's a good example of what community can do with good leadership and it will be just wonderful to have something there to remember her by,” Mrs Stewart said.
Life member of RAAG Graeme Ransley, echoed this sentiment and said dedicating the rest area to Susie was a good way of recognising her legacy.
He said drivers along the Peak Downs Hwy and in the Bowen Basin in general owed a lot to Susie for her tireless campaigning for road improvements.
Susie was a driving force behind the Road Safe September campaign, which offered 24-hour support to motorists along the Peaks Down Hwy during two weeks in September.
In another project, she identified all of the crash sites along the Peak Downs Hwy, all the way from the top of Eton range through to Moranbah.
"She worked with the SES, the volunteer firies up there, the ambos and the police. She logged manually every site where there that had been a crash for some years and then she went out with corflute signs and she actually identified the crash sites,” Mr Ransley said.
"It ended up being 240 sites,” he said.
"Initially, Susie was out there making those signs and hammering those tomato stakes at each individual site all along the highway.
"That's the sort of thing she did. She had all of those emergency services people working with her to identify those sites, because in those days emergency services didn't have a GPS record to where the crashes were.
"They actually drove the road with her in the car and she identified every single individual site and put out those signs.
"That's the kind of energy she had, it was amazing,” he said.
Mr Lang said it was sad that things only got named after people once they had passed and believed Susie would have been inspired by the project.
"It will be a beautiful legacy for her family to know that even though she has passed, her efforts and work in the community has not gone unrecognised and not gone unappreciated,” he said.
Susie Whitehead died in 2014 at the age of 67.
RAAG is are asking people to send donations to: Susie Whitehead Account: BSB: 014-676 Account No. 463595354
Cheques can be mailed to RAAG Inc. PO Box 3105, North Mackay, Qld, 4740