Stephen Winyard's holiday to Australia to help the fire repair

The BlazeAid team welcomed Stephen Winyard into their ranks for more than a month.
The BlazeAid team welcomed Stephen Winyard into their ranks for more than a month.

For the last month, BlazeAid's fence rebuilding efforts have been bolstered by the help of a 70-year-old Scotsman who left his family and friends behind; determined to help the Australian bushfire recovery effort.

Stephen Winyard, 70, arrived in Sydney in the middle of January, while the country still burned in the "hell" of the blazes, and set off in search of a way he could contribute to the relief effort.

His journey took him across the Hay Plains, towards Adelaide and the iconic Kangaroo Island, which he said was heavily featured on national news in the UK.

"I think possibly Kangaroo Island is synonymous with people in England as being very Australian," he said.

"I drove west and arrived in Parndana. Walked into the deli and said 'I'm here to help'." Mr Winyard was quickly directed towards BlazeAid, a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods.

As of Friday, March 13, Stephen has worked 32 days straight rebuilding fences for farmers and landowners across Kangaroo Island.

"It has been a very humbling experience, but an incredibly rewarding one," he said.

"I just turned 70 last year so I haven't done any exercise for over 30 years so I must admit the first week here was quite a challenge.

Stephen Winyard addresses the BlazeAid teams at a a social function.

Stephen Winyard addresses the BlazeAid teams at a a social function.

"In fact, I have gotten stronger every day and it has done my health a world of good." Mr Winyard owned a prominent destination spa in Scotland and said the practical nature of the current work was a completely new experience.

"I employ three groundsman so I have never been around a fence before. I employ a maintenance crew of around four so I have never held a hammer, a drill, a staple gun or driven a tractor before.

"It has been a very grounding experience and it's been such a privilege to talk to the farmers who have in varying degrees suffered quite a bit."

In spite of the physical challenge, Mr Winyard said he has thoroughly enjoyed the BlazeAid work and the Kangaroo Island lifestyle.

"There has been a wonderful cross section of people and I really have not ever laughed as much as I have in the last month as a volunteer for BlazeAid," he said.

"Everybody is so supportive of each other."

Now heading back home, Mr Winyard said he leaves feeling very privileged to lend a hand to those on KI.