The History of the Good Friday Appeal

In 2020, despite the pandemic, the Good Friday Appeal raised an impressive $18,200,000 from public support and a government donation.  In 2021, the event aims to be just as successful by securing online donations.

As it celebrates its 90th anniversary, the appeal is as important as ever in helping to raise funds for the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). It gives communities the chance to come together to raise thousands of dollars. Over its long history, the Good Friday Appeal has achieved fundraising totalling over $381 million. This is an inspiring story that has humble beginnings.

Key points
  • The Good Friday Appeal raises funds for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne.
  • In 2021, the Appeal raised a record $18.2 million, including funding agreed by Premier Daniel Andrews.
  • The Appeal first happened in 1931 but it did not move to Good Friday until 1942.
  • The Good Friday Appeal has raised more than $381 million over its 90-year history.

Entegra Dairy Shed

Eugene showing his support

Good Friday Appeal early history

All across Australia, Entegra staff today are participating in the Good Friday Appeal by raising money and wearing a loud shirt. The story of the Good Friday Appeal began in the early 1930s. At the time, the children’s hospital was under threat of closure. Running costs of the hospital were high, and there was a lack of financial resources.

The founders of the appeal decided to take action. They were all journalists from The Sporting Globe; Dave McNamara, JJ Maher, and George Sparrow. The first thing they did was hold a sports carnival. At this point, there was no link to Good Friday as the event took place on 3 September 1931.

Twenty thousand people attended the carnival, which included a football match between World War 1 veterans from north and south of the Yarra. The carnival was a big success, and £427 was raised.

Following the triumph of this inaugural event, the organisers arranged a further carnival for Friday, 26 August 1932. More events followed throughout the 1930s, with as many as 35,000 people attending.

The move to Good Friday in the 1940s

In 1942, the Appeal linked up with the HWT radio station and changed the event’s timing to Good Friday. The first Appeal broadcast raised £8,310 ($16,620). The 36 women answering the phones took more than 20,000 calls.

Also, in 1942, Uncle Bob’s Club began. The membership fee was a shilling (a “bob”) each week. Today, the club supports the Good Friday Appeal as well as raising funds for the RCH throughout the year.

Collection tins were another innovation that happened in the 1940s. The first one was placed on the counter of the George Hotel in South Melbourne in 1946.

County Fire Authority (CFA) joins the Good Friday Appeal in the 1950s

The 1950s was the decade when the Good Friday Appeal was broadcast on TV for the first time. It was also the era of the appeal’s history when the County Fire Authority (CFA) joined in. The CFA’s first fundraising efforts began in 1951, and the first broadcast on Channel 7 (HSV-7) happened in 1957.

Also, in the 1950s, Jack Rohan became the first Good Friday Appeal Director. He oversaw the new broadcasting partnership with Channel 7.

The launch of the Pied Pipers in the 1960s

At the start of the 1960s, Merv Williams took over as Director of the appeal. Two more directors followed him during the decade;  Ian Meckiff from 1965  to 1968 and Ron Cooke, who took over from 1968 until 1974.

Towards the end of the 1960s, in 1969, some people who worked on the Appeal set up the Pied Pipers. The social and fundraising group still exists and has raised over $8.3 million for the RCH so far. It provides vital support for the Good Friday Appeal.

The modern history of the Good Friday Appeal

From 1974, Jeff Crouch took over as Director of the Good Friday Appeal. He remained in charge until 1994. This means he oversaw important milestones such as.

  •       The first joy flight by the Pilots Federation in 1986 which raised $13,000.
  •       The start of the partnership with Woolworths Victorian stores in 1988.
  • The start of the Charity House initiative in 1993. The first house raised an auction price of $136,000 donated to the Good Friday Appeal. This initiative continues today.

Good Friday Appeal in the new century

The Good Friday Appeal continues to thrive in the 21st century. In 2006, the Herald Sun/TransUrban Run for the Kids began and is still a popular event today. In 2011, Queen Elizabeth II opened the new RCH site, an indication of the success of fundraising activities.

Recent Directors of the Good Friday appeal, Anne Randall from 2014 – 2020, and current director Rebecca Cowan have overseen many successful fundraising endeavours. This includes a record amount raised in 2020 thanks to Premier Daniel Andrews’ commitment to top up the $9,640,437 raised by the public to $18.2 million.

The 2021 Good Friday Appeal was launched with the story of Malu. The two-year-old and his family represent the patients and families at the RCH. The funds raised from the campaign will, as always, go towards funding research, education, and medical equipment. This support will help the RCH to continue providing a first-rate care provision for all patients.

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