Billy cart derby shows value of volunteering | Editorial

The cliche “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” rings true about the loss of the billy cart derby at Classic Yass.

Like most people, it was sad news to me when Mick Newling emailed the Tribune about the event’s withdrawal.

I’ve been here for only the previous two Classic Yass events, but had made some good memories.

In 2016, having been in Yass a mere three months, I was tasked with piloting the red Tribune billy cart – with wings – down Rossi Street.

Hardly any practise went into it before the big day. Al Phemister, who put the thing together, brought it to the office one day and we took two practise runs down Meehan Street.

While squeaky, and with my gut instinct that some bolts needed to be tightened, Al and I decided that was enough practise. It should be right.

Finally, on a sunny November day, my first race was against the officers in blue and white from the Yass Police Station. Surely white and blue wasn’t as fast as red, right? Ford versus Ferrari.

The police and I got off to an even start before the officer went into an aerodynamic position, edging ahead. Meantime, I was shifting my body left and right, trying to get comfortable while rolling down the street.

Before I knew what had happened, I had come to a rest upside down. The billy cart flipped multiple times.

After getting out, an officer was running downhill and then colleague Jessica Cole was running uphill – both towards my crash.

The officer asked if I was okay. Jess, meanwhile, began laughing. “Toby!” she cried. “I took photos of that!” (She would later use one as a front-page photo!)

Anyway, back to the news about the derby’s demise. No laughing matter now.

While the initial post on the Tribune’s Facebook page about the derby decision had readers express sincere sadness, a few also implied blame on organisers without understanding their reasoning.

A major factor is needing more volunteers. If the community wishes to continue this great display of speed and ingenuity in designing carts, then it must invest in it.

As Albert Einstein said: “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted, counts”. Sometimes the value of volunteering can’t be felt until it’s gone.