On the 17 December 2019, a devastating wildfire destroyed Lismore Winefarm in Greyton, Western Cape – the home and livelihood of well-known pioneering farmer and winemaker, Samantha O’Keefe (48) and her two children, Quinn (14) and Keenan (16).
The fire which started in the nearby nature reserve and initially posed no threat to Lismore is believed to have been started by children with malicious intent according to Overberg fire chief, Reinard Geldenhuys.
Unexpectedly the fire moved over to the vineyard and in no less than 30 minutes, the blaze had destroyed Sam’s homestead, cellar and everything she had built over the last 17 years.
In an act of bravery, Sam drove into the blaze, hoping to rescue her farmworkers and animals. Unfortunately, two cats and one dog didn’t survive the fires but fortunately all staff members made it to safety.
Friends and family have travelled far and wide to count the losses and console the O’Keefe family during this difficult time.
To help Sam cover some of her immediate financial commitments and support her in the rebuilding of Lismore Winefarm, re-planting the vineyards, re-building the family home and winemaking facilities, a crowdfunding campaign has launched on BackaBuddy.
The campaign went live on the 18 December 2019, and in less than 24 hours, over R300 000 has been raised towards the fundraising target of R500 000 with contributions from 190 donors both locally and abroad.
While Sam is distraught by the tragedy, she remains hopeful that Lismore will be returned to its former glory. The family are humbled and overwhelmed by the generous support they have received from the Greyton community, previous patrons, as well as friends and strangers from South Africa and all over the world.
“We have experienced a tragedy like nothing we could have ever imagined. Thank you for the outpouring of love and support from the South African wine industry and everyone around the globe. Our hearts are broken, our home and my precious cellar is reduced to ashes but it seems some of our vines are as tough as we are and may survive it all. All of our bottled stock was stored off-site in Stellenbosch. I can assure everyone that Lismore wines remain available to the market. With the generous offers of cellar space, I will produce a 2020 vintage and will rebuild. I have not been able to reply to the hundreds of messages of love and support that have been sent to me, but please know that I have read every one of them. I am in shock and completely overwhelmed with the incredible emotion that each and every one of you has shared with me. I can’t thank you enough.” – says Samantha O’Keefe
To make a donation to help rebuild Lismore, visit BackaBuddy:
“Let’s hold hands and unite to help Sam rebuild her home, her farm, her life and everything else, which brought so much joy to enthusiastic fans of her magnificent wines. We appeal to anyone who has ever come in contact with this incredibly courageous and inspiring woman to reach out!” says Floh.
Messages of support pour in for Sam and her family:
- “Our thoughts are with you and the boys, we are sure you will recover from the set back” – The Kings
- “Stay strong Sam, we know you’ll be back before long.” – Darren Brogden
- “I really hope it helps! Good luck with everything. ” – Jim Gore – Global Wine Academy
- “Hi Samantha, we have only met once but admire the person you have become. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.” – Anonymous
- “A devastating loss, Sam, but know you have a huge community out there supporting you in rising up again ” – Nicola
- “Sam and the boys. Some of the best times I’ve had in South Africa have been at your place. Sending you love and strength. ” – Tim Atkin
- Dear Samantha, are there words to express what happened. So sorry for your loss. Hope you find strength to get on your feet again soon and find spirit to make great wines again. ” – Lisette Goeree
Help The Blue Hippo Farm recover from the blaze
The Blue Hippo Farm in Greyton run by Gabby van Heerden and Simone Beckerling has also suffered a major loss due to the fires on the 17 December with their farm, buildings, and pastures burning to the ground.
Fortunately, all their animals were rescued. However, they have lost their home and their livelihood that they have built up over many years, with incredible dedication and passion.
A friend of the organisation, Debbie Braunlich, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy to help cover the following expenses:
– Boarding fees for relocated animals
– Animal feed
– Vet bills, should there be any
– Living expenses for Gabby and Simone
Help The Blue Hippo Rebuild by donating here: https://www.backabuddy.co.za/debbie-braunlich
Create your own crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy:
https://www.backabuddy.co.za/individual/register or email firstname.lastname@example.org
BackaBuddy has supported more than 10 000+ individuals in setting up crowdfunding campaigns for medical fees, tuition and various other causes in South Africa. Learn More.
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