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Donald to Charlton push
CFA brigades are the backbone of the Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, collecting more than $25 million for the lifesaving appeal since the late 1950s.
Donald Fire Brigade members have been collecting since 1963, and Lindsay Wood, a brigade member for more than 65 years, remembers when they first started participating in the appeal.
“We called it the Donald-Charlton Barrow Push,” Lindsay recalled. “Members would push wheelbarrows along dirt roads through Donald and Charlton, visiting houses and encouraging people to throw money in for the cause.”
They were so passionate about the cause that, in 1964, the Donald-to-Charlton push began travelling down to Melbourne.
“Each year on Good Friday, Donald members would start up the 1926 T-model Ford fire truck and head for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne,” said Lindsay.
“We’d aim to visit as many towns as possible along the way.”
The nine-hour trip travelled through Charlton, Wedderburn, Inglewood, Bridgewater, Marong and then across to Ravenswood, Harcourt, Castlemaine, Elphinstone, Malmsbury, Kyneton, Woodend and Gisborne before arriving at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
“The truck’s highest speed was only 40 kilometres an hour, so it was transported from town to town on the back of a trailer,” explained Lindsay.
“As we entered each town the truck was unloaded, the engine started, the air horn blown and off around the streets we would go.”
Donald’s members enthusiastically pushed wheelbarrows down the road beside the truck, inspiring locals to throw money in for the cause.
“Sometimes we might collect up to 300 pounds, which was a lot of money back in those days.”
After visiting the Royal Children’s Hospital, the truck would head through the city to the Good Friday Appeal counting rooms at The Herald & Weekly Times printing rooms in Flinders Street to hand over the money. Lindsay said it was always a great feeling delivering the collection.
“It’s a tradition and appeal that we hold close to our hearts. We hope it continues for many more years to come.”