Fundraiser for the family of young farmer killed in accident reaches $260k

Gavin and Rosie Dowling with their children Harry, Digby and Olive.
Gavin and Rosie Dowling with their children Harry, Digby and Olive. Photo credit: GiveALittle

The widow of a young farmer killed in a farm accident has penned an emotional message of thanks for a GiveALittle campaign to help her and the couple's three young children.

Gavin Dowling died on his farm in East Coast Marlborough on March 26.

A GiveALittle campaign has raised over $260,000 for Dowling's wife, Rosie and their three young children, Harry (4), Digby (2) and Olive (9 months).

The COVID-19 outbreak meant that Rosie was unable to be comforted in person by her friends, as daughter Olive suffered from a rare health condition, could not be exposed to the virus.

In a note posted online, she expressed her thanks to those who had contributed.

"I am embarrassed and overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity people have shown towards my little family," she wrote.  "I feel sick talking about money right now, it seems so unfair. But I also would love you all to know what this is going to do for us."

She said the couple had a small farm south of Ward, Marlborough along with a leased farm. 

"The farm alone, with the debt we carry meant Gav had to work bloody hard for us to get ahead.

"What he achieved in a day was a lot, he was productive, meticulous and passionate. We’ve been here for 4 years now, Gav with the help of our family and some good contractors, has re-grassed, subdivided, put in a water system and turned this farm into an awesome little block."

She said her husband was a great support when she was away from home due to Olive's hospital stays.

"I was so proud of him, and the way he looked after those boys while I have been away.

"We face-timed most nights and they were always fed, bathed and running around like idiots. He loved those kids so much and he never held back telling them."

She also shared an insight into her life under the COVID-19 lockdown.

"We are now living in isolation with a few people close by in the bubble; I go to the hospital every morning to see wee Olive (who is being so dearly looked after by the Wairau Peads ward).

"I look at the boys and feel so sad that their Dad is not in their lives because he brought them so much happiness. He had so many unfinished plans – it seems so unbelievably cruel that everything was ripped away from him so soon – we were only just getting started."

Dowling said it was a struggle to find the words to express her thanks for the GiveALittle page, and the support and kindness.

"It blows me away that there are so many people who care for our little family.

"I am determined to carry them forward and try so bloody hard to fill my wee ones with joy and love. 

"With your help, we have a plan and a dream and that dream is Kintyre Downs, our little farm. Thank you for helping keep this dream alive. We have a purpose."

A police spokeswoman told Stuff earlier the death was being treated as "unexplained at this stage".

"Worksafe has been notified and the death has been referred to the Coroner," she said.