John Bailey and Rheia Leonard, of Lismore, with their twin girls Nakita (left) and Caprice, are still in shock – but delighted – with the generosity of a stranger in giving them $100 to buy gifts for their daughters.
John Bailey and Rheia Leonard, of Lismore, with their twin girls Nakita (left) and Caprice, are still in shock – but delighted – with the generosity of a stranger in giving them $100 to buy gifts for their daughters. Jacklyn Wagner

A stranger at the Lismore tip gives Christmas joy

LISMORE residents John Bailey and Rheia Leonard have had such a terrible two years that they wondered when their bad luck would ever run out.

However, a Good Samaritan has restored the couple’s faith in humanity, and the spirit of Christmas, with a gift to the family from out of the blue – and from the most unlikely of places.

The couple’s string of troubles began in March last year when their house was robbed.

They lost money and belongings, but what hurt most was the loss of precious pictures of their newborn twin daughters, Caprice and Nakita.

Then Mr Bailey broke his back in a work-related accident and was retrenched while still on worker’s compensation.

Mr Bailey took his former employer to court over his sacking, but lost the case.

Unable to meet mortgage repayments on Mr Bailey’s disability pension, the couple were forced to sell their home.

Mr Bailey’s constant back pain and resulting mood swings placed so much strain on their relationship that for now the couple have amicably split.

All that aside, the pair scrimped and saved throughout this year to buy a few special Christmas presents for their precious daughters and all looked rosy until last week, when Ms Leonard opened her garage door to find all the gifts waterlogged and growing mould.

The damage was the result of several days’ torrential rain.

With the presents and Christmas trimmings stored on the garage floor of their rented home, water penetrated and ruined everything.

Distraught, the couple could only load the wet pile into their box trailer and take it to the tip.

It was there, amid the rubbish, that the family’s luck turned a corner.

“I was telling my tale to the blokes who work there, who were helping me unload my trailer, when a man came up to me and shook my hand. He must have overheard my story. In his palm was a crisp $100 note and he said, ‘Here you go. Make sure your girls have a happy Christmas’,” Mr Bailey said.

With that, this make-shift Santa in his sleigh – an orange VW Kombi ute – disappeared in a cloud of tip dust.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Mr Bailey, still shaking his head.

“When someone comes out of the blue and does that, it just shows you that there are still Australians out there.”

“The Christmas spirit still lives,” Ms Leonard said.


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