A heartfelt thank you

John Grono and Donna Andrews tragically lost their Bundanoon home in the bushfires that tore through the Southern Highlands in early January. Since then, a Gofundme set up by a friend has collected support from across the industry John has been part of for four decades, as owner of GAP Research and a Media Federation Hall of Fame inductee. Here, John and Donna offer their thanks.

Sadly, our home was destroyed in the Bundanoon bushfire on the night of Saturday January 4th.

It was a freak occurrence. An ‘ember tornado’ generated when the pyrocumulonimbus cloud that formed near Nowra collapsed and started the Morton fire. And also the Yuille Avenue fire.

Eerily there were no ‘red skies’ that you see when a fire is approaching. There was a ‘black ash’ shower which we hosed down on the house, the gutters, the decks and the verandahs.

Once back inside the RFS site and various satellite heat maps showed no indication of a fire approaching. Then the phone rang. My neighbours yelled “We’re on fire, get out, get out, get out.”

Looking out my office window there was still no red sky. We grabbed our computers and crammed them in the pre-packed bags at the door. My wife Donna also managed to grab the chicken we had moved to the laundry. We loaded our bags into our cars which were already packed with sleeping bags, pillows, shoes, photos and some valuables.

We left within three minutes.

Driving down our road there was a wall of fire around 500 metres long roaring up the hill through the neighbouring paddocks. By the time we hit the main road, both sides of it were on fire.

We drove through. We were safe.

Next morning we were sent this picture.

The Bundanoon home on Nine News after it was destroyed

Yes, our house was gone. Four of the 23 homes on our road were lost. But we were lucky as no lives, no pets, and no livestock were lost.

Oast House was a magical house, and was built by John Hopkins, of O&M fame, and his wife Lindi. My wife Donna Andrews and I moved there in 2015. Like a river, the magic still flowed. Sadly that chapter has now closed.

So many people in our great industry have been so kind, generous and thoughtful with their emails, messages and phone calls. It is also very humbling that so many have been very generous with much-needed Gofundme donations. No matter how much insurance you have, it rarely covers the full cost.

Donna and I have been extremely busy securing accommodation. Today the hard work of starting to clear the site starts. The wait for the insurance settlement will be agonising. We intend to rebuild, such is the magic of Oast House.

Oast House before the fires

But what I really want to say is a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contacted and supported us. We simply don’t have the time to thank you all individually – but you know who you are – so please accept our collective thanks for all you have done for us. We will be eternally grateful and indebted to you.

We are so lucky. We are safe. We will have a roof over our head. And we have your support.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

With lots of love.

John Grono and Donna Andrews.

If you would like to support John and Donna you can donate to the Gofundme fundraiser here. 

John Grono worked at Nielsen, Clemenger BBDO and OMD Australia before launching GAP Research in 2002. He was inducted into the Media Federation of Australia’s Hall of Fame in 2014.


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