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YJA Intermediate runner-up

06 August 2019

The runner-up in the Australian Catholics' Young Journalist Award Intermediate Section was Madeline McVeigh of Catholic Ladies College, Eltham Vic. 

Seeing through the smoke

Struggle, is an understatement. To be torn from a home you love, to lose loved ones and completely rebuild your life in new foreign places is not a struggle, it’s a battle. A battle for comfort, a battle to once again feel remotely back to normal. It was as if the fire had not only wiped their house, town and community, but it had burnt all remains of their life prior to it. 

Interviewing Linda Roycroft was one of the most raw experiences of my life. I could see the pain and memories replay as she retold me the horror of the Black Saturday bushfire that had affected her and her family. One out of many of the families whose lives changed remarkably due to one single fire. One of the things that impacted me the most is how it has changed her.

‘You really think you’re in control of your life but in reality, that’s just an illusion’, she told me.

Her and her family were split for almost two whole days. She sat waiting at the fire station hoping her kids were ok as she had no idea of their location. Think for a minute, about how it would feel to have no idea where any of your family members are, or if they are even alive. These are the gruesome thoughts this family faced for 48 hours, wondering, hoping and praying that you will get one last look at the people who mean the most to you.

Where to even begin to try and recapture a family history that is unique to the Roycroft clan? How does one family rekindle years and years of memories and life that was destroyed in under 24 hours?

Even though this has left a tremendous wound for their family, what has resulted has been a deeper understanding of love and gratitude. It has provided an astounding amount of wisdom. Things like these don’t get brushed over, they change you, even if they don’t mean to.

Lynda said that there is good in everything, although sometimes she does wish she could go back to the innocent untouched family from 10 years ago. It has made the family closer and stronger and changed them for ever. The Roycroft family is truly inspiring.


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