FOLLOWING the tragic death of her husband in the Black Saturday fires, Carol Kane publicly thanks the community that has supported her.February 7, Black Saturday, brought devastation to all of Victoria, and the Bendigo bushfires took the life of my husband, Mick Kane. I and the entire Kane family have been deeply devastated by his tragic and untimely passing. In the immediate days following the disaster, and still weeks later, we have been touched by the generosity and kindness of friends, family, the Bendigo community and so many local businesses.How does someone say thank you to a community that has done so much for you? Thank you seems so inadequate for the support my family and I have received from so many individuals and organisations during the past two months. From the very night of the fires when I lost my beloved husband, I had to recount what happened to the police. A lovely lady who had come to volunteer her services sat with me until I could make my statement.She knew I only had that which I stood in and when I came out of the station I found she had left $10 under my wiper blade.From that moment on the out pouring of kindness and compassion from so many people, including complete strangers, has been something I will never forget and something that has made an extremely difficult part of my life seem a little bit easier. There are so many people I would dearly like to thank and I am sorry if I haven’t been able to do it personally or if I may have forgotten someone, but some that can’t go without mention are as follows: To my family: my mum Val Bryant; Barry; Lyn; Sharon; Charles; Matt; Jenny Winterbine; and my second family: Mick’s beautiful sisters Cheryl; Jenny; Kathy; Carol; Jill and his brother Chris, I could not have made it through this without you all. The most important thank you goes to two very special people: Mick’s sister Jill and her boyfriend Michael Ryan. Jill and Michael were with me the day of the fire as I was trying to drag my husband to safety from where he had collapsed in our driveway.Michael was wearing only a pair of shorts and ran straight in to the fire zone and sent me and our girls out to safety while he remained and tried desperately to save Mick.Now because of his amazingly brave and selfless act he and Jill have to carry a burden that I would never have the strength to bear. For that I owe them both a debt I will never be able to repay. My wonderful neighbours Jenny Carolan and Kaye at the Sparrowhawk Road Shop.My case worker Kaye Graves who has done so much for me, and Mick’s uncle Lindsay Filbey, Jill Lougoon and Drew Gray.So many local businesses provided support and generously donated their time and goods and services leading up to and beyond Mick’s beautiful funeral service and in support of myself and my beautiful Birman’s and I would like to acknowledge and thank them all so very much: Andrew Hampton; Sally and all the staff at William Farmer Funerals; Civil Celebrant John Bond; Neil Chapman Maryborough Printers; Arthur Pantazis SGM Video Productions; Stephen Maggs Video Service, Eaglehawk Floral Boutique, Eaglehawk Hot Bake; Steve Greenwood the Shamrock Hotel, Margot Falconer at The Advertiser; Lindsay’s Lingerie Warehouse; Blue Illusion Boutique; Don Papes Camera House; Captivate Jewels and Gifts; Stearns Showcase Jewellers; A Line Holiday Village; Brian Dunn Ford; CEPA Farm Supplies TS Clothing; Millers Clothing Kangaroo Flat; EDEN Day Spa Golden Star Restaurant, Bendigo Cat Club; Cat World Melbourne; Eaglehawk Road Vet Clinic; Beck Legal; Victorian Quilters; IAMS Pet Products; Feline Control Council; Vic Ray Patterson; so many officers of the Bendigo police who have been so caring; members of the Country Fire Authority who work tirelessly under such difficult conditions; members of the Red Cross and all the volunteers who assisted at the relief centre; the Uniting Church; Centrelink; and the Department of Human Services.All of these people and businesses have been so wonderful, I really need all of Bendigo and district to know of their kindness, generosity and compassion. Their support and assistance has made such a difficult time just that little bit easier to get through.It is not so much the things people have given me that have meant so much, although I would be lying to say they have not helped me; it is the sheer kindness I have been shown by so many people. Despite some undesirable member of our community looting our property and stealing the BBQ a week after the fire, I am proud and honoured to live among a vast majority of good, honest, caring people who were total strangers to me but have done their utmost to ease not only my pain but that of all the bushfire survivors. Please accept my humble thanks to everyone for everything you have done, from the gifts of clothing and furniture to the simple smile and touch on the shoulder to reassure me it will be OK – it all has meant so much.Mick’s family would also like to extend their thanks to each and every person mentioned above and to all those who have helped in some way. So many family and friends rallied together after the fire and donated wonderful gifts of clothing, furniture, gift vouchers and other items that it is just impossible to name everyone. Please know we all thank you so very much and appreciate your kindness. February 7 seems such a long time ago now, but there are so many who lost so much and experienced unimaginable terror in the face of these fires, and so many community members are still struggling to return to a normal life; for some of us it will never be over.Please, Bendigo, don’t forget Black Saturday and how it brought our community together, don’t forget people will be hurting for a long time to come, and most importantly, don’t lose the sense of community spirit that we found through this tragedy. To all those who lost loved ones, homes, pets or were touched by these horrific fires, know that our thoughts are with you also and we wish you can be at peace with life once again very soon. We truly want to thank all those who have helped in some way great or small and we sincerely hope the loss of our loved one and so many others throughout the state are not in vain. If you or someone you know has valuable insight or information about the fires, please go to your local authorities or submit to the Bushfires Royal Commission to ensure this tragedy never happens again.