Herald Sun hospital appeal tops $17 million

Herald Sun hospital appeal tops $17 millionShamalki Sapatha Waduge and Nilushi Siriwardhana from Craigieburn collect money at the corner of Mt Alexander Road and Buckley streets, Essendon. Picture: Mark Dadswell, Herald-Sun

A record $17 million has been raised for Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital in a Good Friday appeal supported by the Herald Sun.

The appeal was started in 1931 by a group of sportsmen and journalists from The Herald and Weekly Times publication The Sporting Globe, who held a charity sporting carnival with the Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital as a beneficiary.

In 2015, more than 80,000 people packed the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre for the Kid’s Day Out – up from 60,000 in 2014 – and an all-day telethon was covered by Channel 7, 3AW and the Herald Sun.

“It’s been going 84 years and it’s become part of the fabric of the Victorian community,” Herald and Weekly Times chairman Penny Fowler said.

“One of the things people don’t realise about the appeal is it goes all year round, culminating on Good Friday with the telethon.”

Woolworths staff raised $1.6 million over the last year for the appeal, while the Herald Sun CityLink Run For The Kids fundraiser saw $1.8 million raised. Volunteers who rattled tins regularly for the Royal Children’s Hospital Auxiliary raised nearly $1.5 million.

“People have golf days, jazz days, the Rural Fire Service and Uncle Bob’s Pied Pipers collect money…people donate from around the country and it all adds up,” Ms Fowler said. “It’s truly community driven.”

Stars including Jessica Mauboy, Home and Away actress Pia Miller and Carlton AFL players donated their time touring the wards of the RCH as part of the live telecast, while more than 800 medical students volunteered to be a part of the Teddy Bear Hospital at the Kid’s Day Out – where children could take their teddies to be assessed. On the day, more than 1500 volunteers turned out to take donations and count money at the free event.

Two-year-old Oliver Tucker, who suffers cerebral palsy and has been admitted to the hospital nine times, was an ambassador for the appeal.

“We all know someone – a relative, a neighbour, friend or colleague – whose children have been treated at the world class facilities at the hospital,” Ms Fowler said.

“That’s what resonates with people.”

The Herald Sun, the Sunday Herald Sun and all News Corp Australia Victorian publication had undertaken widespread coverage in the lead-up to the appeal.

“All the journalists, editors and photographers worked hard – every second day there was a story on the appeal, and that really helps,” she said. “By telling the stories of patients and their families, it’s in the public’s minds in the lead up to the appeal.”

The real heroes were the volunteers, Ms Fowler said. “They work year round rattling tins, holding school fundraisers and auctions,” she said. “They are the backbone of the appeal.”

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