Canberra's sports community takes on renovation project for teammate
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Canberra's sports community takes on renovation project for teammate

Jeannine McNally can't remember when the hockey ball went through her front window. Her husband Peter patched it up with duct tape and that's how it stayed for years.

"It seemed like our whole house was held together by duct tape," Jeannine says.

Jeannine McNally wants to thank everyone who helped with the renovation of her home after her husband Peter died two years ago.

Jeannine McNally wants to thank everyone who helped with the renovation of her home after her husband Peter died two years ago.

Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

"Pete would start these projects and then they'd get too hard, or he'd be off coaching hockey or floorball, and would get too busy.

"I loved Pete with all my heart but it annoyed the shit out of me!"

Some of the Prime Timers' girls  swapped hockey sticks for paint brushes.

Some of the Prime Timers' girls swapped hockey sticks for paint brushes.

Photo: Supplied
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Two years ago Peter tragically died of a heart attack at just 52. More than 600 people from across several sporting associations turned up for the funeral.

"I remember the funeral home asking how many people I thought would turn up," Jeannine says.

"I had no idea, 80, 120, they told me to order 60 scones.

"We were blown away when 600 people turned up. I don't think Pete even knew how many lives he touched."

The back deck after.

The back deck after.

Photo: Supplied

The sporting organisations rallied to support Jeannine and their three children Matthew, Samantha and Kate, now 23, 20 and 17.

Longtime friend Maryanne Ellem coordinated many things, from helping with the funeral to the delivery of meals.

The back deck before.

The back deck before.

Photo: Supplied

And then a major project gathered steam.

"A few people started to talk about finishing Pete's projects," says Jeannine.

"Little did they know there were quite a few.

"Before I knew it I had a entirely new house."

Jeannine said it was difficult at the beginning to let people help, to even ask for help. There was just so much to be done. Ellem placed a notice on the Hockey ACT website and the project kicked off.

"But it just snowballed and I am so grateful. I really don't know how to say thank you to everyone."

When the "plant guy" comes on Tuesday the project on her Spence home will be complete.

There are too many names to list and she's worried she'll forget to thank someone. Vince Cossetto took on something of a foreman role. Darren Williams built the decks. Patches Asphalt put in a new driveway on Monday. Tony Mumberson from At Home Landscaping took care of the yard.

"And that's the thing," says Jeannine, "all these big burly guys, who are tough on the hockey field, are the most gentle of men."

She wants to thank them all.

"Tony Mumberson would run a mile from a thank you, he'd be the first to flick the ball at your head, but can I corner him to say thanks, no."

It wasn't just the trades that were represented. Jeannine had accountants, financial planners, lawyers come out of the woodwork to help with things like wills, home loans and superannuation.

And she also had the support of her hockey girlfriends, the indomitable Prime Timers, a group of women of a "certain age" who have been playing hockey with and against each other for as long as they can remember.

"The girls offered such great support, emotionally as well as hands on," Jeannine said.

"They set up the International Paint Committee and much champagne was drunk as we painted until all hours of the night."

She thinks Peter would be embarrassed in a way at the support they've received.

"He was the first person to help other people out though," she says.

"We had all these jobs here but he'd be around to your place in a flash to help someone.

"Sometimes it's hard to ask for help, sometimes it's ever harder to say thank you. I just want everyone to know how grateful I am, and how proud Pete would feel that his mates came together for this."

Karen Hardy

Karen Hardy is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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