The recent suicides of drivers Mark Haines and Tom Seccombe brought the Coffs Harbour trucking community together on Saturday, with over 100 trucks running in convoy to raise awareness and much needed funds for mental health.
Ian ‘Eno’ Taylor, a friend of Mark Haines was the brainchild behind the event, which swelled from a humble gathering into a major event at the Coffs Harbour Showground.
“It went a lot better and smoother than I’d originally planned,” said Taylor.
“Originally it was planned as a small memorial for my lost workmate, but the more I spoke about it with other drivers it just snowballed.”
“I got on board with Lifeline, who showed a lot of support and we ended up with 102 trucks. Even the highway patrol got involved to direct traffic for us. It was just a fantastic day. Watching some of the videos back just puts shivers up my spine.”
Given the success of the day, there are already discussions about making it an annual event.
“The response I got from a lot of the drivers was that when all the trucks were parked up, it was like a truck show without the trophies,” explained Taylor.
“There was no competition. No, ‘my truck’s better than your truck’. It was just everybody talking to everybody around the BBQ. There were kids playing and families talking. No alcohol was involved, it was just a really safe, community environment.
“I had a debrief with Lifeline this morning and we’re talking about making it an annual event.”
Taylor has already initiated a fundraiser in association with Lifeline called Grinding Gears and Burning Diesel, which, at the time of writing, has already raised $6,000 of its $10,000 goal, with over $12,000 donated by the community and business on the day.
The program will also feature videos with Taylor as an ambassador for mental health. The videos will consist of practical tips on how to look after yourself and your work mates, conversations and check ins over the radio, face to face support and training at the truck depots and access to accredited training programs for the workplace.
“We’re on Facebook as well. It’s all about mental health around truck drivers, and learning about coping mechanisms,” said Taylor.
“With the money that we’ve raised, we can put back and support our drivers the best way that we can.”
If you need support, you can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.