Catherine O’Keeffe Member Story

Last year, my husband and I went through some very challenging experiences that were very difficult for us to navigate. If it were not for my employer Norton Gold Fields engaging Miners’ Promise to support us, I do not know how we would have pulled through. I am forever grateful for the amazing practical and emotional support provided by Miners’ Promise, they are an organisation that go above and beyond.

Last year in mid-April, I came home from a night shift to find my husband, Ian Montgomery (Mongrel) at home from work and looking extremely grey and tired resting on the couch. I immediately asked him to come to the hospital, but he said he would be ok. I insisted and as I needed to be back home to sleep for the coming nightshift, I put my foot down. Ian got ready and as he was doing so he came out to me and asked if I could call 000 as he was really not feeling well. The Ambulance in Kalgoorlie was already busy with another call out, so we were asked to wait for an hour and a half. I decided that I would drive Ian to the hospital as it was only 10min away.

When we arrived at the hospital Ian couldn’t walk in without the assistance of a wheelchair, as a big fella (6foot 8inches) I didn’t ask twice but fetched a wheelchair for him. Apparently, he had a heart attack on arrival at Kalgoorlie Regional Hospital. I stayed with Ian for a few hours and then decided I would need to call work (Norton Goldfields) to report what had occurred and that I would not be in that evening for nightshift.

My HR department suggested I get in touch with Miners’ Promise, but as I had 89 phone calls from family and friends, that day my “Life as I Knew It” had changed and I thought I would contact them if I felt I needed assistance.

Previously to this, all I knew of Miners’ Promise was that they had come to the assistance of a few of my crew members when their loved one’s had passed away. I didn’t realise that they also helped people in our circumstance.

The diagnosis for Ian was that he had pneumonia and needed a triple by-pass surgery… to be performed in Perth at Fiona Stanley.

Whilst waiting for Ian to be well enough to fly to Perth with the Royal Flying Doctor, a Family Support Advisor from Miners’ Promise had received a phone call from my HR department to ask her to touch base with me. Interestingly throughout all this I had started to feel quite frantic and she was able to ground me with some very good advice as to how to proceed.

When Ian left Kalgoorlie, I was to drive to Perth where I had paid for accommodation for the duration of his surgery. Ian had his triple by-pass surgery and was still under aesthetic for four days (which was unusual). Finally, he was deemed well enough for me to return to Kalgoorlie and resume work for that swing and then travel back to Perth for his recovery.

I drove home to Kalgoorlie and the next morning was phoned by Fiona Stanley Hospital to say that Ian had had another cardiac arrest and that he was not in a good way. Again, phone calls to work and to our Family Support Advisor. I was amazed at the kindness and generosity of what Miners’ Promise was prepared to do for us. Though offered a flight to Perth, hire car and accommodation, I had decided to drive down again so I could bring some family members with me and our beloved Blue Heeler, Mutley. I was just as amazed that Miners’ Promise helped me out so much with the accommodation.

Ian had other complications and with Miners’ Promise I was able to stay in Perth for around a month and a half. My Parents flew over from Melbourne to help me and they too were able to stay in the house which was an enormous support for me to be able to have them close.

After 7 months off work and other health concerns (golden staph infection) Ian is back at work and has another lease of life. I don’t know how I would have been able to juggle all these issues without the guidance and support from Miners’ Promise.

While Ian was still at home recovering, another dreadful event occurred. My half-sister passed away in tragic circumstances. It was even on the radio news over here in Kalgoorlie. As my Miners’ Promise Family Support Advisor always checks in with me from time to time, it just so happened that she called me at this time. Again, Miners’ Promise, without hesitation called my work and arranged flights to and from Melbourne for me to attend the funeral.

I thank Norton Gold Fields for their care and compassion in engaging Miners’ Promise when my family and I really needed help. I have so much gratitude in my heart for Miners’ Promise and the amazing support that they gave me. I know of so many other people whom they have helped over the years.


Love and light
Catherine O’Keeffe