Family overcomes despair to restart iconic business
THE Lismore Skating and Putt Putt family business remains shut three and a half months after the flood as extensive repairs and renovations are done to the venue in preparation for a planned August opening.
The building, which is located flush against the river bank, in the lowest point of North Lismore - which was also the area hardest hit by the flood, suffered catastrophic damage and as a result the building has been gutted in its entirety as husband and wife team Craig and Belinda Newby start from scratch.
"There are days you walk into the place and you have no energy," they said.
"You really have to push each other and there are days you feel like totally giving up."
The repairs include over $4000 worth of paint for the skating floor, new walls, a new powerbox and new electrical wiring, new kitchen, and new skating shoes and hockey equipment.
The flood left mud and silt over an inch thick inside, and insulation in the roof was still sodden a month after the flood.
"It is like starting a new business," Craig Newby said.
The tragic twist in the tale is that Craig Newby, who's parents owned the rink in the 90's, had a full flood plan that he had enacted many times before.
Part of the strategy was to place skating and hockey gear in the loft, which had been built to be higher than the 1974 flood.
Once word came through that the flood would peak at 11 and a half metres it was too late to access the site as the road goes under at 8 metres.
The anxious wait across Thursday and into Friday for the family was greeted with disaster when they saw an image on facebook showing the water in the loft and four metres above the rink.
"We were in despair - we just new it was in the loft."
Craig said the decision to continue the business did not come lightly but after years of nurturing the family business and teaching parents who had then brought their children to learn to skate and then their children's children the connection and nostalgia was strong enough to overcome despair.
"Everybody has a story about their first time at Lismore Skating," he said.
"It is an iconic place."
In fact it was the venue that Grinspoon played when they were first starting in Lismore.
Belinda Newby, who came third and fourth in the Australian Artistic National skating competition in July and is selected for the Australian Oceania team, could not let it go either and so they have decided to persist.
The big positive to come out of the tragedy is that Lismore will receive a rejuvenated, brand spanking new skating venue that will look better than ever.
A working bee being held this Saturday from 9am and will involve primarily painting will take place and all are welcome to participate.
Mr and Mrs Newby said every bit of help made a difference including any size donation to the crowdfunding campaign on gofundme.com.