Drought, bushfires and coronavirus ...
The town of Willawarrin on the NSW Mid-North Coast has seen it all but the local hotel continues to put their community before themselves.
In November, bushfires tore through the town and Kempsey area, destroying properties, homes and buildings.
"22 homes were lost in the general Willawarrin area according to the local brigade captain," Kempsey RFS Superintendent Lachlann Ison said.
Staying open has definitely been difficult but we're here to serve the community, it's all about keeping our patrons provided for and ensuring that we can support the people that support usGordon Henderson
"Throughout the Kempsey local government area, 67 houses and 170 outbuildings were destroyed with a further 23 houses and 70 outbuildings damaged."
With conditions going from severe to extreme on November 8, the town was evacuated with people relocated to the Kempsey Showground.
At its peak, the fire was 200 metres away from the Willawarrin Hall which then, once safe, served as a refuge for those affected residents.
Local volunteer Kathryn Batchelor says Willawarrin Hotel publicans Gordon and Karen Anderson deserve all the praise they get after their tireless efforts in supporting the community during the bushfires.
"The hotel is the social hub of the town," she said.
"Karen and Gordon have done a hell of a lot of work in helping people in the local community, housing and feeding firefighters along with the Australian Defence Force.
"I know they've been feeding people for free and they deserve a lot of credit for what they have done."
Kathryn met the Andersons through her volunteer work and has been responsible for liaising with charities and those within the community - ensuring they receive assistance.
The work she's done consists of a long list that includes baking food, supplying face masks for firefighters and allocating donations while also dipping into her own pocket at times.
"From my volunteer efforts I met Gordon and Karen at the pub and would help anyone that Karen would steer me towards whether they needed help with supplies, filling out paperwork, understanding what they're entitled to or just a simple one on one conversation," she explained.
"Gordon and Karen would let me leave things at the pub - so I would gather anything from blankets, food and containers with locals picking them up from there."
From the work of many in the community, the pub was the 'go to place' throughout the bushfire relief exercise and Gordon says the assistance from businesses, people and council was and still is unbelievable.
"We've had tools, clothes and many other supplies donated to the town and stored here at the hotel," he said.
"Kempsey local council has been magnificent in their support of the area along with many other charitable organisations.
"We had donations from Sydney and other areas of NSW along with four trailer loads worth of supplies from the Central Coast."
Gordon's wife Karen echoed these sentiments with specific items generously donated by charities and businesses.
"The Red Cross, Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul have all been a great help along with businesses, people from the area and those throughout NSW," she said.
"Locals were provided with free mobile phones, every child from school or pre-school at Bellbrook and Willawarrin were given free scooters or bicycles.
"Twenty water tanks were donated and water pipes replaced for free along with donations made for our Christmas party."
Staying open has definitely been difficult but we're here to serve the community, it's all about keeping our patrons provided for and ensuring that we can support the people who support us.Gordon Henderson
With the drought and bushfire affecting the town of Willawarrin, the coronavirus has been another setback for the hotel and its operations.
In line with government restrictions, it has stayed open only to offer takeaway options in food and beverage - but with little revenue and the struggle to compete with other bottleshops, the times are certainly tough.
Gordon, barmaid Fleur and the hotel's cook have all had to apply for JobKeeper funding.
"It's tough, really tough," Gordon said.
"On our big nights we would normally have around 100 to 150 people here which is essentially the whole town, but coronavirus has changed all that.
"I've had to cancel all the bands we had planned and obviously these musicians are being affected by the virus too."
Kathryn Batchelor sympathised with the hotel's current situation.
"It would be incredibly hard to keep things going, cool rooms are obviously a large electrical cost along with many other functions of a pub," she said.
"When things return to normal it's crucial that it stays open."
Once restrictions begin to be lifted, Gordon is determined to keep his patrons safe and ensure the pub's doors stay open.
"Once we can go back to normal trading if social-distancing laws are still in place we will be enforcing them heavily," he explained.
"We have to make sure patrons are abiding by restrictions because if they're not it certainly creates risks and harms our chances of staying open - I'll certainly be taking social-distancing guidelines very seriously."
Despite the obvious financial and mental strain of being such an important organisation, the Andersons aren't letting it stop them from serving the community.
"Staying open has definitely been difficult but we're here to serve the community, it's all about keeping our patrons provided for and ensuring that we can support the people who support us," Gordon said.
He added that having such wonderful staff is another reason he's continuing.
"Fleur is the best barmaid in the Valley, that'll probably upset other people but she definitely is," he said. "She can talk to absolutely anyone and that's a massive key in this job."
"They've all got lovely hearts," Fleur added.