CHANGING LIVES: Couple recognised for years of charity work
A FEW tears were shed when Paul and Blanche Ninnes were honoured during a ceremony at Hervey Bay Special School for their tireless fundraising efforts.
Principal Reno Tieppo said as a thanks for their dedication, the school aptly named their resource centre after the pair.
Mr and Mrs Ninnes, who have raised about $40,000 a year through hosting weekly bingo sessions, said they were humbled by the gesture and had no plans to stop fundraising for the school.
"It's in our heart and to see all the children at the special school that are so happy," Mrs Ninnes said.
"When we first went there, we went to the library and it was a big empty building.
"They had no chairs, no tables, empty book shelves and so went thought OK, we can do this.
"We've seen that school at its very lowest when they had nothing and now it's a beautiful school."
Mr Ninnes said he spent 18 years working as a fundraising officer for the Endeavour Foundation and when he retired in 2013 he thought that was the end of his fundraising days.
"Then I got a phone call to say, 'come have a talk with the special school'," he said.
"This went on for three or four days and in the end I said, 'if I must'.
"And that's how it all started and we've been fundraising for them for nearly six years."
Mr Tieppo said without the help of the community, the school wouldn't have progressed like it has.
"Over the past three years I've been here, we've built up a large number of people who are from different community service organisations and we've become friends," Mr Tieppo said.
"They've been able to help us through some tough times financially with improving the school environment.
"This morning, the focus was on Ian Dinte and his wife, Linda, and Paul and Blanche Ninnes.
"They're just a great example of the community coming together to support our students."
Mr and Mrs Ninnes host bingo at Hervey House, Hervey Bay RSL, 11 Torquay Rd, Pialba, each Wednesday from 10.30am-1.30pm.
Proceeds go to Hervey Bay Special School.
For more information about the bingo sessions, phone Hervey Bay RSL on 4197 7444.