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GALLERY: $1.7 million funding commitment lifts Roosters’ spirits after bus tragedy

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The memory of those who perished in last month’s Greta bus tragedy will live on… long into the future.

Many people in the Hunter community are still coming to terms with the loss of Nadene and Kyah McBride, Andrew and Lynan Scott, Kane Symons, Rebecca Mullen, Darcy Bulman, Zach Bray, Tori Cowburn and Angus Craig, on that fateful night on 11 June, with most of them connected to the Singleton Roosters AFC.

And, as the AFL Hunter Central Coast club’s men’s and women’s sides returned to field at Rose Point Park on Saturday, the shattered sporting organisation received some uplifting news at the weekend.

NSW Premier Chris Minns watched the Singleton Roosters first match since last month’s Greta bus tragedy.

The NSW Government will outlay $1.7 million towards the expansion of the Roosters clubhouse and facilities, including a permanent memorial element to acknowledge the victims of the accident.

“Singleton’s heart remains broken… but we are buoyed by the outpouring of support from the entire community,” Singleton AFC president Dylan Hixon said.

“We are grateful for the many heartfelt messages of condolence, well wishes and donations.

“If nothing else, this terrible tragedy has shown the good in people to rally around those doing it tough, particularly following unimaginable hurt.

Singleton Roosters AFC president Dylan Hixon.

“The funding commitment for our upgraded club facilities will make a huge difference in supporting our participants and members… now and years down the track.

“Thank you to the NSW Government and AFL NSW/ACT for being proactive in supporting a build, which the Roosters have been working on.

“We look forward to continuing the legacy of those lost and remembering their amazing contribution to our community.”

The expansion will be jointly-funded, with AFL NSW/ACT contributing $250,000 from the Australian Football Facilities Fund and Singleton Council to commit monetary assistance as well.

Among the planned enhancements are new change rooms with shower facilities, storage spaces, umpire areas, a scorers’ box, first-aid room, toilets (female, male and accessible) and internal renovations of the existing building to upgrade the kiosk, kitchen and meeting room.

Most importantly, it will provide the Roosters and the local community with a memorial and a space to honour and remember their loved ones.

Singleton mayor Sue Moore and NSW Premier Chris Minns.

Singleton mayor Sue Moore admitted council was extremely grateful to the NSW Government for its ongoing support.

“This project will expand and enhance an important community facility that goes to the heart of local sport in Singleton,” she said.

“Our community has experienced unfathomable heartache and sadness over the past month since the bus crash tragedy and, with most of the victims having played for the Singleton Roosters, I can’t think of a more fitting tribute.”

Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell echoed those sentiments.

“Five weeks ago, an extraordinary set of circumstances rocked the Singleton community to its core, especially the Roosters AFL club,” he said.

“The outpouring of support for the 10 victims and those who were injured, their families and friends has, in itself, been extraordinary.

“On behalf of the Upper Hunter electorate, I express my gratitude to everyone.

“I also thank the Premier for the NSW Government’s latest contribution to enhance facilities as Rose Point Park, a place where the spirt of those, who sadly will never return, will always be remembered.”

Premier Chris Minns, who has visited the region on numerous occasions in the past month, including Saturday, said the tragedy was felt right across NSW.

“It’s appropriate that a commemoration is built to mark the loss of lives and their legacy in the community,” he explained.

“This investment recognises the emotional toll of the recent tragedy, providing a space for healing and unity within the Singleton community.

“The clubhouse expansion will be of great benefit for the Singleton Roosters AFC and the wider community, empowering them to grow, host events, competitions and gatherings that will enrich the social fabric of the region and help everyone heal.”

Minister for Sport Steve Kamper added grassroots sporting clubs were the bedrock of communities right across NSW.

“The Roosters’ clubhouse expansion represents our unwavering commitment to supporting this local community as well as sporting communities across the state,” he said.

“The improved facilities, including new female change rooms, will create a more inclusive environment, promoting gender equality and encouraging greater participation of women and girls in Australian Rules Football.”

AFL NSW/ACT boss Tiffany Roberson welcomed the announcement.

“The AFL community has been greatly impacted by the tragic loss of beloved teammates and friends of the Singleton Roosters,” she said.

“The AFL’s contribution to the project acknowledges the tremendous impact those lost had on the club and broader football community.

“We thank the NSW Government, Singleton Council and AFL Hunter Central Coast for their leadership and support through this funding commitment.

“In the past month, we have seen the strength and resilience of the Roosters’ footy community on display.

“Although it will take time, the upgraded facilities will play a small part in helping Singleton heal.”

Upper Hunter MP Dave Layzell, Singleton mayor Sue Moore, NSW Premier Chris Minns, AFL NSW/ACT boss Tiffany Roberson and Cessnock MP Clayton Barr.

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