Gift perks up mayor’s heart

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianMidwest Times
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Geraldtn mayor Shane Van Styn received this surprise Christmas present from one of the squatters at Batavia Motor Inn.
Camera IconGeraldtn mayor Shane Van Styn received this surprise Christmas present from one of the squatters at Batavia Motor Inn. Credit: Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton mayor Shane Van Styn received a surprise present from one of the squatters who lives next door to him at the derelict Batavia Motor Inn.

“He popped in to my yard to wish me a merry Christmas and gave me a second-hand coffee machine as a gift and wished me well, and asked me to keep up the good work,” Mr Van Styn said.

“He also gave me $20 to hold for him in case he runs out of money middle of next week.

“Possibly the most humbling gift, compliment and offer of trust I have ever received.”

Mr Van Styn said he was humbled by the “random act of kindness”.

“Can you just for a moment believe there are folk out there that have not much; they are still giving and even more profound are extremely grateful for all they have,” he said.

“I have no words to describe the impact — big tough guy Shane has shed a bit of a tear.

“I think I may have found these ‘feelings’ things you people talk about.”

Mr Van Styn said he expected to have squatters next door for a while longer.

“The company that owns the building has filed for voluntary liquidation so we are now having to go through the process of the demolition notices with administrators, with liquidators,” he said. “Everyone wants to know who is going to get paid for demolishing it or boarding it up or even administering it, given that there’s no money available.”

Mr Van Styn said the City was probably about mid-way through a long, drawn out process that had gone on for years.

In the meantime, he said he had met many of the squatters in the building.

“I’ve got some quirky neighbours over there — they all seem to be very polite and respectful to me and my property at least,” he said.

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