Wagga Wagga, or Wagga to the locals, is one of the top ten most populated cities in New South Wales. The town’s central location makes it a key spot in the state’s medical landscape, and it draws many patients from surrounding rural communities.
Nestled between two motels on Edward Street, Lilier Lodge is an unassuming building from the outside. However, the lodge provides an essential service for at least a thousand Australians every year. Lilier Lodge was built by CanAssist, a network who work to provide and improve access to cancer treatment and care for rural inhabitants. Lilier Lodge provides accommodation to rural cancer patients who otherwise would face worse outcomes or be unable to afford accommodation in the urban centres that have Australia’s cancer treatment facilities. Lilier Lodge’s twenty double rooms help bridge the rural/urban treatment gap.
“Lilier Lodge is one of Wagga Wagga’s best-kept secrets.”
Lilier Lodge was built in 2004. Its status as a charity means shoestring budgets for maintenance and upkeep, and the facilities are starting to degrade. The hydronic heating system that services the accommodation has worked admirably, but one of its two boilers is failing, along with the accompanying radiators. Then Andy Linn arrived.
Andy has been a plumber for over 29 years. Andy learnt about hydronic heating the old-fashioned way – from another tradesman skilled in the work. “My kid’s school needed help fixing the boiler, and I asked around,” Andy says. “I finally found an Irish guy named Charlie from Wollongong who offered to teach me everything he knew about hydronics – as long as he only had to drive down from Wollongong once.” Andy’s wife works at Lilier Lodge. He’d heard the concerns about the lodge’s heating system, and he made the decision. Not wanting to raise anyone’s hopes, he secretly applied for a Reece Local Grant.
“Wagga’s the main source of cancer care for 200 to 300kms. If we didn’t have the lodge, we’d be up the creek without a paddle.”
Andy’s $15,000 Reece Grant will fund a replacement boiler along with a new radiator for the hallways. These new and more efficient appliances will not only work better, they work smarter, reducing the operating costs of Lilier Lodge significantly. The existing radiators in the rooms will also all be upgraded, installing new valves, heads and lockshields.
Andy says that ultimate success for him would be simple. It would mean the closure of Lilier Lodge, and all the surrounding cancer treatment facilities; that would mean cancer was fully conquered. “However, that seems unlikely right now,” he admits. “The next best thing is a warm, welcoming home away from home, while you’re going through one of the toughest periods of your life.” He hopes that these changes will keep Lilier Lodge running for many years to come.