Cranbrook Cares: Bushfire Appeal for Impacted Families - Cranbrook School

Cranbrook Cares: Bushfire Appeal for Impacted Families

13 Jan 20 by Nicholas Sampson, Headmaster

As many of us celebrated Christmas and rang in the New Year with fun, frivolity and optimism for 2020, others within our Cranbrook community have been left devastated and impacted by the NSW bushfire emergency and are facing a bleak and uncertain future.The School has been made aware of a number of Cranbrook families, alumni and staff who have had their properties and livelihoods impacted by the bushfires over the last few weeks.

Among those to contact the School to share their devastating experience is the Kam family, whose son Gabriel attends Cranbrook as a Boarder. The Kam family have been sheltering in our Boarding House after their home of 20 years burned to the ground and all of their possessions, except their car and the clothes on their backs, were lost in the devastating Green Wattle Creek bushfire in Balmoral Village.All that remains of the family’s home, 300-year-old heirlooms and belongings is piles of ash, twisted metal, burnt timber, charred belongings, melted plastic and unrecognisable cherished possessions. The Kam’s stoically tried to defend their family home, but when the fire front flared on three sides they knew that battle was lost. They fled their property with that most precious – each other – bunkering in their car as the fire raged around them until help came.

The family is suffering and, like his parents, Gabriel has lost everything: his baby photos, toys, textbooks, uniforms, assignments, computer, trophies, clothes, shoes, phone and everything else a teenager has the privilege of enjoying and likely takes for granted. 

Justin, Helena and Gabriel are understandably experiencing a gamut of emotions as they try to come to terms with the scale of their loss and the real fear they experienced on that horrific day.

The ferocity of the fire front that bore down on properties in the State’s south is echoed by Cranbrook Wolgan Valley Campus caretaker Justin Zorz who lives with his family in the valley nearby. After ensuring his family was safe, he bravely did what he could to ensure the Cranbrook campus was protected as fire raged through the valley and approached the structures. It is due to his selfless commitment in working to direct fire crews and protect our property that the campus structures stand un-impacted. While his own house was saved by firefighters as he worked to protected our property, much of his vital farming infrastructure was destroyed as he chose to protect our campus over his own home. We are entirely grateful for his selfless support for Cranbrook and his bravery.

Like the Balmoral area, much of Wolgan Valley is burnt out. The abundant wildlife that call our property, and those surrounding it, home are trying to find shelter and food where there is none. Many are singed and injured.


We know that Cranbrook cares and that many will want to help within the Cranbrook community and beyond. Below we share information on some of the ways you can assist those in need. Please note that Cranbrook has no affiliation or influence over the fundraising and donation avenues outlined below.

Disaster Appeals

Financial donations to the official bushfire appeals, designed to assist all impacted families, can be made as follows.

Firefighters and Equipment Donations

Donations to support firefighters, stations and equipment can be made to the NSW Rural Fire Service, or your local fire station. 

The Kam Family

Current families and the School have already banded together to provide support to the Kam family such as new text books, emergency accommodation and uniforms. If you would like to help further, we encourage you to contact the family directly to offer assistance via

Gabriel’s friends who he sings with as part of the Sydney Children’s Choir have also set up a crowd funding donation site. For more information visit GofundMe or read more by clicking on the below image.

Wildlife and Animals

The following groups are seeking donations to help support injured and impacted wildlife and domestic animals:

I know our generous community will rally together however they can to support these fundraising and donation causes.

I thank you in advance for your support and wish you all a happy, healthy and safe few weeks until School returns.

With warmest wishes,

Yours sincerely


Nicholas Sampson