In June 2021, LG Electronics Australia recognised Kylie Mowbray-Allen as a hero in her local community of Bangalow, Northern NSW. In 2017, Kylie established the Bangalow Lion Hearts, a volunteer group that provides community support through home-cooked meals, working bees, transport to and from medical appointments, and more.
The Lion Hearts was established on a ‘pay it forward’ mindset and Kylie embodies the organisations’ motto of 'It feels good to do good for others.’ We spoke with Kylie to find out more about her efforts – why she started the initiative, her achievements so far and what is in store for her and the Bangalow Lion Hearts initiative.
LG: What prompted you to give back in your community?
KM: Fourteen years ago, my husband Richard broke his neck playing rugby in Byron Bay. He was airlifted to Brisbane where he spent a year in hospital. Our daughter was four at the time and we moved to Brisbane to be near him and learn how to care for him. Meanwhile, our little community of Bangalow in Northern NSW set up a fundraising committee where funds raised went toward a purpose-built house to help us get through this tough initial stage. It was so moving to experience such unconditional giving and an amazing show of a beautiful community spirit. It was very humbling, and it was at that point that we knew that when the time was right and we were able to, we would pay it forward.
Following the devastating 2017 floods in Lismore, Murwillumbah and surrounding areas, my family and I became involved in the Bangalow Baked Relief. Volunteers from all over our region were cooking and baking to help flood-affected people, and businesses were donating pallets of supplies. We volunteered our time to cook, bake and support the distribution of this food. The experience opened our eyes to what we could do and the difference we could make in people’s lives. I knew then and there that I wanted to continue helping people as much as possible, more than just in times of crisis but whenever they needed a helping hand.
LG: How did you come up with the concept?
KM: We knew that we wanted to create a community support group where we could help people day-to-day. The idea for the Bangalow Lion Hearts was born out of the knowledge that asking for help can be one of the hardest things for humans to do. Our initiative is about supporting those who need a little help, no matter what it is – from providing a home-cooked meal to a ride to the doctors. We want people to feel nurtured and nourished, especially when they are going through a hard time.
We lead busy lives so knew that the Bangalow Lion Hearts needed to be manageable so we could help people every day of the week. We offer support to lots of people in various capacities and we also have a Facebook group of volunteers who cook, drive, and help in any way they can. We couldn’t do it without the community pitching in.
LG: What results have you achieved so far?
KM: The Bangalow Lion Hearts has achieved more with our initiatives than we could have imagined. We have fed hundreds of people in need, run working bees, transported people to and from chemo appointments and walked dogs when their owners are incapacitated. My husband Richard has also turned part of the Clover Hill Park into a community vegetable garden, which we use for the community cook ups. We also donate the produce to homeless shelters, women’s shelters, soup kitchens and other local organisations who make sure the food reaches people who need it.
LG: Have you come up against any challenges?
KM: The initiative is straightforward and easy to manage, so we are continuously able to provide support to those who need it. Because of this, we are lucky to have not experienced any challenges – we are pleased to be able to brighten the day of people around us.
LG: What’s next for you and your initiative?
KM: We are always looking for new ways to help people in need and to provide support beyond our local community. We are working to raise funds to replant the whole community vegetable garden so we can help feed more people. We are also working on a few exciting projects to help improve the lives of others and are proud of the progress so far. I want to help inspire others as well and show people how easy it is to lend a helping hand to someone who may need it.
LG: What does being named an ‘LG Local Legend’ mean to you?
KM: I am still in shock and so humbled to even be nominated, let alone win. I am filled with gratitude at the acknowledgement of what I do, but there is no ‘I’ in team and I am part of an amazing team! I have been volunteering in many capacities within my community for the last 21 years and I have always done it out of love, to give back to my community and help wherever I can. Being acknowledged and recognised is not something that ever crossed my mind, but it feels amazing to know the efforts of the Bangalow Lion Hearts makes a difference. We do not usually receive thanks because we never wanted or needed it, but this feels like the biggest thank you from LG and our community, which is extraordinary. It is the most phenomenal thing to ever happen in my life and I hope our initiative may inspire other communities around the country.
We would truly like to thank Kylie for her efforts in supporting her local community of Bangalow and beyond. We wish the Bangalow Lion Hearts our best as they continue to provide support to those in need and help improve the lives of others. For more information on the Bangalow Lion Hearts initiative, visit Bangalow Lion Hearts.
If you know someone like Kylie making a difference through their time, actions, talents and/or dedication to others, you can nominate them to be named an LG Local Legend by visiting: lglifesgood.com.au/nominate-a-local-legend.
We are looking forward to celebrating their achievements with you soon!