State News

A puppy-led bushfire recovery

A local contractor working on the State and Federal Government’s free bushfire clean-up program has surprised a landowner with a new puppy, just days after they cleared his property.

Brad Lees, from LEEZ Group Services led a team of six clearing Bill Harris-Walker’s property near Willawarren, NW of Kempsey.

“We have been working with Laing O’Rourke on the clean-up for several weeks now. In that time, we’ve met so many great local people some of whom have really heartbreaking stories to share.

“Bill is one of them. He is a 78-year old retired Federal Police Officer, father and grandfather. He lives on his own and makes ends meet by working as a farmhand on nearby properties.

“On the day of the fire Bill walked into Willawarren to the pub where locals were gathering. Initially, the fire was more than 20kms away from his property, but the fire moved more quickly than expected and sadly Bill lost his home and his beloved dog, Pete.

“When Bill told us this, our hearts just broke and we knew we had to do something more than just clear up his property to help. Bill had told us he was keen to bring a new pup home sometime soon to keep him company, so we decided to bring those plans forward and surprise him with Snip – a three-month old Kelpie cross.

“Everyone on the team chipped in. Together, we had enough money to cover the cost of Snip, his puppy vet bills, a new bed and blankets, a lead, bowl and food. When the work on his property was done, we all went over to Bill’s place to introduce him to Snip and share a few laughs.

“In the whole time we’ve been clearing Bill’s property, we hadn’t seen him smile like that! It was a really-humbling moment, one we all will never forget, and a great reminder of just how much this work means to the people in the community.

“I’m so proud of the team for making this happen and so grateful we get to be a part of this project. Once we were engaged by AADEMEX & Laing O’Rourke to be a part of this project, I sat down with the team and as a group we thought that it was important to us to leave a feel good moment in some way, shape or form where we could with each property owner to help them move on from this devastation” Mr Lees said.

LEEZ Group Services – a far North Coast based family owned and operated business – is one of the many local businesses working with Laing O’Rourke to deliver the State and Federal Government’s bushfire clean-up program.

Registrations for the clean-up program are still open. Residents are urged to make sure they are registered – while also making sure your friends, family and neighbours are registered.


You can register by calling 13 77 88 or visiting

If at any point you would like further information about the clean-up process you can visit at any time or contact Laing O’Rourke on 1800 007 539