• Tony Bosworth

KH resident to hand out free badges to those who can’t wear masks due to medical conditions

Kurrajong Heights resident Liam Shorte was shocked when he heard of people who couldn’t wear masks because of medical conditions being harassed in shops, so he came up with a brilliant idea – a neat, bright button badge which tells anyone looking – you can’t wear a mask because of a medical condition.

Now the businessman is offering them to the community for a gold coin donation, which will go to a charity.

“I saw people on Friday making a nasty comment to a lady on Twitter who tried to explain she was both asthmatic and claustrophobic,” Liam told the Post.

“Then a client with an illness in the Sydney northern suburbs explained they had not been out because they feared a backlash for not being able to wear one. Lack of understanding and fear can shake community spirit.”

On the Kurrajong Community Facebook page in particular, locals have been increasingly upset at how people are being judged out in the community if they don’t wear a mask because they can’t.

Under the Covid Order brought in for Greater Sydney – which includes the Hawkesbury – people have to wear a mask when going into a shop, for example.

One Kurrajong Community Facebook member, Marissa Katharina, said: “I am just devastated by people questioning others not wearing masks.

“My mum AGAIN today has been abused for not wearing her mask correctly inside of Coles. She was wearing it slightly under her nose while she was checking out her groceries. My mum has an exemption from wearing a mask as she has a heart condition, but feels the need to wear one because she has been abused so many times now.

“She was called a liar, and she should be ashamed of herself - in front of everyone inside of Coles. I don’t know what to do or say anymore regarding it but my mum is in hysterics over it, it’s causing her massive stress.”

How many in our community are medically exempt from wearing masks?” asks Liam.

“I think we need to look after them so they are not constantly harassed, and so mask wearers stay sane too. I see too many getting upset on both sides.”

Liam got on his computer, did a search, found a company in Australia making the badges, and ordered a batch.

“I plan to just park up in Kurrajong village at the Memorial park for an hour one evening and the same in Kurrajong Heights outside the IGA or Archibald Hotel, with their permission. People can come and grab them. Some have already sent me direct messages and I will put some aside for them.”

And Liam’s community spirit does not come with a big bill – or any bill for that matter.

“By buying in bulk the price came down from $7.99 to $1.63 each so I am happy to just supply them for free as my bit for the community.

“I feel others have done way much more in the last year like Mountain of Joy, RFS and local business owners of Deli La Na, IGA Kurrajong Heights, and James Grasso at the Archibald to build community spirit.”

Liam’s ordered 100 “and many people have offered to chip-in”, he says.

“There is a natural limit to who needs them so I would prefer people to give a gold coin donation to a charity like Hawkesbury Helping Hands,” says Liam.

Liam believes the badges may help reduce tension in the community.

“And if enough of those who can’t wear a mask have the same badge, then they become noticed and it ends up removing the need to explain why. These are not ‘I will not wear a mask’ they are ‘I can’t wear a mask’ so it’s not a protest.”

The badges are made in Victoria so once Liam has them in his hands he’ll post on Facebook the night before he’ll be handing them out.

We asked Liam – who runs a Financial planning business with offices in Windsor and Castle Hill - why he wanted to do this for the local community.

“I have lived in the Kurrajong area with my family since 2005, and Kurrajong Heights since 2009, and love the community spirit but have been so busy with work I rarely get a chance to give back.”

Liam will be posting on Facebook soon with dates and times when he’ll be handing out the badges.

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