My Mate Phil

My mate Phil Gander from Brunswick Heads is a dead-set legend. Not only does he call me every month or so to check if I’m still working for “that paper” (Byron News) but he’s spent most of his life raising money for people who really need it. Some of Phil’s escapades include travelling down South Australia’s Murray River “pontoon style”, driving down the Birdsville Track, and putting his 1928 Chrysler Plymouth on rails in order to cross the desert railway line.

Phil’s first foray into fundraising was for a 1985 Variety Club bash that was the brainchild of explorer and philanthropist Dick Smith. “Dick organised a group of us to travel from Sydney to Bourke in Far West New South Wales, and from there to Burketown in Northern Queensland,” Phil recalled. “That first event raised $250,000 for Variety and started what is now known as the Variety Bash.” Since then, this self-scribed “JOATMON” – Jack Of All Trades, Master Of None – has helped raise nearly one million dollars for various charities including the Kidney Foundation, Endeavour Foundation, and Make a Wish Foundation.

Inspired by the “unseen, unheard and unpaid” volunteers around the country, Phil has dedicated his life to raising funds and awareness for a number of charities. “I think if we all looked at the number of people around Australia who worked voluntarily, everyday, they’d easily outnumber the paid workforce,” he said. Phil drives his Chrysler Plymouth – at a gentlemanly speed of course – every day so look out for him on the roads in and around Byron.

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Photography by Veda Dante.

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