Four Newcastle locals and handful of pubs prove the spirit of giving extends all the way from the Stone Age to present day
They’ve been at the pub week in, week out, all year, for the past seven years dressed as the Flintstones and never once have been asked to leave, not even when Fred (AKA Geoff Haran) shouts out Yabba Dabba Do at the top of his booming voice.
In fact, the Flintstones are four of the most welcomed people you will find at both the Duke of Wellington and Northumberland hotels.
Why? Because for the past seven years, Geoff Haran, Margaret Haren (Wilma Flintstone), David Jordan (Barney Rubble), and Maree Jordan (Betty Rubble), have been working hard at their locals raising money for the NSW Variety Bash, providing funding and support to kids doing it tough across rural NSW.
This year alone they raised $35,000, and over the past seven years their fundraising has exceeded $100,000.
While Maree is the first to say it’s not recognition that they are looking for, they certainly received it this year when they were awarded the illustrious Spirit of the Bash accolade for their contribution throughout the event.
“It was such a surprise when they announced it,” Maree said.
“I mean, you always hope, and we worked really hard. We always try to come up with ways to engage with the kids and make them smile, either by handing out lollies, or through giving books at each school presentation. This year Margaret came up with the over-sized bowling game and they seemed to really enjoy that too.”
The history of Team Flintstones began in 2012 when Margaret came home with what Geoff calls the ‘opportunity of a lifetime’ - to purchase a fire engine that a friend had previously used on the NSW Variety Bash.
“We bought a fire engine that neither of us at the time had a licence to drive, but it was too good an opportunity to pass up, so for us the decision was as simple as. So we bought it,” Margaret said.
The next challenge was to put a team together and that’s where their local hotel the Duke of Wellington Hotel at Lambton came in.
“One day I saw Margaret at the Duke selling raffle tickets for Variety and we got to talking,” David said.
“They mentioned they were looking for team members for the NSW Variety Bash and both Maree and I just said ‘yeah, absolutely’. We already knew them a little just from being locals at the Duke, but that’s how we really met and became a team.”
“They mentioned they were looking for team members for the Variety Bash and both Maree and I just said ‘yeah, absolutely’. We already knew them a little just from being locals at the Duke, but that’s how we really met and became a team...”
After searching through a variety of 70s characters, Geoff chose the Flintstones and the team was officially born.
With the Duke as both couple’s local hotel, they quickly teamed up taking on the weekly Wednesday raffle as a fundraiser, which eventually turned into numerous events throughout the year.
“The chef at the Duke, Jimmy, even got on board and organised a Greek night for us last year with Greek food and dancers and we raised extra money that way. The hotel also donates the proceeds from the Melbourne Cup Raffle and lets us organise St Patrick’s Day games as fundraisers, including the hotel’s inaugural Crab races this year,” Geoff said.
“The hotel has been incredible in supporting us as our local, and I can’t say enough about licensee Tony Jackson. He’s supported as all the way through and has gone out of his way on so many occasions.”
For David the connection with the Duke and the support they have received is extra special.
“I was born just down the road from the Duke and have lived there all my life,” he said.
“I’ve been a local at the Duke for 40-odd years, and my two children found work at the hotel as they got older. My son in the kitchen as an apprentice chef and my daughter waitressed while she was at university. That’s how we got to know the Duke and we’ve always felt more than welcome there and really a part of the community.”
“The hotel has been incredible in supporting us as our local, and I can’t say enough about licensee Tony Jackson. He’s supported as all the way through and has gone out of his way on so many occasions...”
The team also raises money through Friday night raffles and on ANZAC Day at the Northumberland Hotel, Lambton each year.
“We took over the Northumberland Friday night raffle from some friends who used to enter the Bash as the Ghost Busters team, but when they couldn’t continue we kept it going for Variety,” Geoff said.
The team have no plans of shedding their Flintstones attire anytime soon, and are already planning to exceed their fundraising goals for Variety in 2020.
“There’s no reason to stop or change now,” Geoff said.
“I think people see the Bash and don’t always realise that in addition to the car, the outfits and all the fun, there’s also 51 weeks of fundraising that goes into, but we love it and that’s why we do it.
“We really just want to thank the Duke, Hunt Hospitality, the Northumberland Hotel and all the other pubs that have also helped and supported us over the past seven years, including Sydney Junction Hotel.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without them.”