The contribution of complete strangers and friends alike was enough to almost get the better of David Tunstead at an emotion-charged flood fundraiser last Saturday night.
While he's a self-proclaimed teddy bear, Mr Tunstead had to fight back tears before he admitted "don't let the ugly looks fool ya".
"I'm a big softie, I've been known to cry in movies too," he said.
He knows it will be another couple of months before Tunstead Oysters is back up and running following the devastating March floods, but the challenging task itself has been made slightly easier.
Mr Tunstead's heroic efforts at the height of the flood crisis were repaid with interest and while an official figure is yet to be announced, the fundraiser is believed to have generated close to $40,000.
"I'm a big softie, I've been known to cry in movies too."David Tunstead
"That will go straight into infrastructure and oysters to get Tunstead Oysters back on its feet so we can start selling beautiful oysters to Port Macquarie again," he said.
"There are government grants there, but it's dollar for dollar and who's got 75 grand sitting in the bank especially when you've only sold oysters for three weeks since Christmas."
He said the sight of Settlers Inn overflowing with mates, people he barely knew and complete strangers provided an insight into how natural disasters brought people together.
It's not a city, it's a small country town with a big heart.
"People who say Port Macquarie isn't a small community country-based town haven't seen what we did in the floods and how people band together."David Tunstead
"People who say Port Macquarie isn't a small community country-based town haven't seen what we did in the floods and how people band together," he said.
"We are a small-grade country town. Some liken us to cities, but we're not a city, mate. We've still got a country heart."
He admitted he hasn't had the opportunity to sit back and contemplate what he's lost because the focus is on rebuilding.
"If I stop and think too much about what I've lost it's pretty devastating," he said.
"It will be another three or four-months of hard work to rebuild; my lease got completely wiped out ... there wasn't an oyster left on five leases."
But Mr Tunstead admitted the sight of a good friend in a bikini was something to behold.
"He bought Susie O'Neill's swimsuit and Pete Murray said for $200 that we'd make him wear it and all of a sudden it got up to $1000," he laughed.
"Seeing him in a size eight swimsuit is quite a sight to see."
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