Member Story – Regan Opalinski

On the 26th October, Ange Whitehead bravely shared her story at the KCGM Legends of Gold Mining Legends Charity Gala Ball in Kalgoorlie. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Ange for courageously sharing her story and with Ange’s permission, we would like to share it with you.

What Miners’ Promise gives to its members can never be measured and there is no way to adequately convey what it means to those in need to have their support.

6 years ago, my life took a turn that I never imagined happening and never imagined coming out the other side.

My partner Regan was killed in a motor bike accident close to home.

The usual chain of events occurred. Friends rallied, family arrived, as did the flowers and food and life became one big blur.

Sometime during the initial 24 hours of this tragedy, Miners’ Promise were contacted and asked if this event was something that they could be involved with. Immediately Miners’ Promise jumped on board to help and support, not only me, but the extended family through this horrific event.

Within 36 hours post tragedy, I had an amazing woman from Miners’ Promise, by my side. Her compassion, knowledge, and support were almost indescribable. To a degree, she became my security blanket against everything I didn’t want to or couldn’t face. She became my voice when I couldn’t say what I needed or wanted to happen.

Over the coming week, MP assisted with the funeral arrangements and all the finer details involved with this – the order of service, readings, photos, the wake, music… so many details that one never considers until they have to. Miners’ Promise sorted the logistics of family accommodation, announcements and so much more.

Most importantly though, Miners’ Promise listened to me every step of the way. I may not have made much sense at the time, but Miners’ Promise never wavered in their support. They knew what had to be done and guided me gently through the process.

Of all this, one of the many things that remains stuck in my mind. Miners’ Promise absorbed what was going on around us and got a real sense of who Regan was and what he had been like. At the funeral, Miners’ Promise did a reading of a poem…… Too rough for Heaven and it was Regs to the letter. There were a few light-hearted moments during the reading of the poem as it was synonymous to him…

Once the initial shock of it all had settled, family had gone home, and life was moving on, Miners’ Promise stepped in with a different form of support. Regan had died intestate and there was no will. All of a sudden, I had shotguns in the house that I didn’t have a licence for, a motor bike to consider and lots of other stressors, some were known to me, but many were not.

Miners’ Promise guided me, and sought advice when they didn’t know the answers, through all of this. It took near on 18 months to get everything sorted, but not once did I feel I was facing this momentous task alone.

Miners’ Promise supported me through the entire process with advice, guidance and following up on documents and bureaucracy that I just could not deal with at that time. Sometimes it was just a phone call to say hi and to let me know that I was not alone.

Not once ever, did I feel I was a burden or a drain on the people I dealt with. No matter what the time, what the issue, I had unwavering support either face to face or at the end of the phone. I felt like Miners’ Promise had known Regan and I, and we were family, even though Regs was gone.

Once I’d gotten my life, not necessarily back on track, but functioning again, I thought they would move on and do what they did so well, for others. This was not the case. It’s been 6 years now, but I still very much feel like part of the Miners’ Promise family. I still see Regan’s picture on their banners, I get cards on the anniversary and updates of Miners’ Promise though their newsletter. I do not feel I have been forgotten at all.

Words are inadequate to truly convey what Miners’ Promise did for me and Regan’s family, what it meant at the time and in the months following and how it helped us all get through a horrific time. I truly hope everyone gets behind Miners’ Promise and supports this incredible organisation, so no-one faces trauma and tragedy alone.

Thank you for listening.

Ange Whitehead