September 14, 2020
Shoppers who have popped into Linard’s Floral and Bridal Centre in Kingaroy over the past eight years would have noticed Sarah Butcher working away busily in the background.
Sarah, 27, stays away from the front counter but she loves working with the flowers – and now her remarkable life story is the subject of a short documentary made by a local filmmaker.
Sarah, from Inverlaw, was born with a rare genetic disorder known as 18Q Syndrome which means she is missing a part of chromosome 18.
The effect of the condition varies from person to person but in Sarah’s case it has created problems with her thyroid, hip and ankle which has led to multiple operations.
Back in Year 10 at Kingaroy State High School, Sarah was offered the opportunity to do work experience at Linard’s by then-owner Kathy Sanderson.
Sarah proved so handy around the shop she began an apprenticeship with Kathy soon afterwards.
When the store was put up for sale, Sarah’s mum Sharon decided to study floristry and the family bought the business.
Sarah can now be seen at the shop most days, working away with the flowers at the rear of the store.
“Sarah would do flowers 24/7 if she had the opportunity!” Sharon said.
It was while she was working at the shop that Sarah and Sharon got to know the Torrens family, who grow fresh cut flowers on their property near Kingaroy.
Michael Torrens would chat to Sarah when he dropped off his proteas to the store.
Michael’s wife, Tina, takes up the story …
“We have been supplying flowers to the florist for years to the previous owners before Sharon and Ken Butcher later took over and purchased the business,” Tina said.
“Through my husband, Michael, I had heard about some of Sarah and her family’s struggles.
“Sarah and Michael have developed a very special bond as he always has a chat with her when he drops off flowers.”
Listening to the radio while out on a walk during the height of the COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year, Tina heard about the Focus on Ability Film Festival.
“Something struck a cord and I felt this overwhelming pull towards producing a video telling someone’s story/their journey, and at the same time, challenging myself and taking myself out of my comfort zone and doing something really special,” Tina said.
“For me to do this documentary, Sarah had to first feel comfortable with me as a videographer. It was only because of my husband that Sarah let me in, to which I am eternally grateful.”
The short films was shot a couple of months ago at the Torrens family farm.
And Michael had to be in it … that was one of Sarah’s conditions for agreeing to take part.
“I must say that I had a very emotional journey whilst producing this short documentary,” Tina said.
“To squeeze a lifetime in to five minutes was extremely hard. There was a lot of really great interview footage that I had to cut which left me torn and pulled on my heart strings.
“I truly hope that this short documentary reminds viewers that there are many people living with a disability that contribute to society and whilst people like Sarah had no choice with the cards they were dealt, she, like everyone else, has a choice on how to live a fulfilling life.”
Tina’s film, “Living with 18Q Syndrome”, is a finalist in the 2020 Focus On Ability Short Film Awards which has attracted entries from 19 countries.
“For me, the intent behind producing this documentary was give people a glimpse not only into Sarah’s life, but her whole family’s life,” Tina said.
“They are a team and have arrived to where they are today because of their close bond and undeniable love of each other.
“Sarah just keeps pushing though day by day and takes life on the chin as she deals with the struggles and ongoing issues that living with the symptoms 18Q throws at her.”
Tina is hoping the local community will get behind her and Sarah’s film and vote for it online.
“Even though we are confident the judges will love this film, if our local community gets behind Sarah and I, our film might just win the Most Online Votes!” she said.
Voting starts on Tuesday (September 15) and concludes on September 21.
“Every day during voting, voters go in the running to win a $50 iTunes voucher, but you can only vote once in each category,” Tina said.
“I truly hope that viewers feel a connection, gain some insight and feel inspired by Sarah’s story.”
- External link: Vote here for Sarah’s film (voting opens on September 15)