|Type of post:||Club news|
|Posted By:||Dick Bushell|
|Date Posted:||Mon, 17 Feb 2020|
In the wake of horrendous bushfires in Victoria, some of which are still not under control, many stories of heroism and daring are emerging. The amazing courage of the fire fighters and volunteers has been lauded in the press, and rightly so, but behind them are equally amazing volunteers, without whom the front liners would never have lasted so long.
One such man is Melbournaires singer Gary (Gazza) Sturdy. Recognising a need to provide sustenance to exhausted fire fighters, Gazza took it on himself to organize meals in the East Gippsland town of Bruthen, and agreed to accept catering responsibility within the Operation Veteran Assist group of 94 fellow Veterans who had gathered from around Australia. With a $10,000 dollar RSL donation, this group set up a kitchen that fed exhausted firies and prepared them to continue the battle.
Gazza soon received a call from the army who were helping fight the fires in Orbost, a two hour drive away, still in East Gippsland. He jumped to the call telling army officers what he needed to feed 300 personel. Given the all clear, he commandeered an 18 tonne truck and helicopter to convey a field kitchen and food from Albury/Wodonga to Orbost. When they arrived in good time, Gazza instructed a squad of army personnel to set the kitchen up and have it ready for production. This was done in record time. For the next ten days, Gazza cajoled, badgered, and pressured everybody providing food for the hungry fire fighters, amongst whom were equally devastated army personnel, who hadn’t eaten a decent meal for the previous days they were assisting. Gazza worked 19 hour days to organize around 400 meals per day per meal time, and over ten days 5700 meals were served.
In recognition of Gazzas’ efforts, he was awarded the Chief of Defence Force Medal presented to him by General Angus Campbell, one of only three handed out in the last ten years.
Gary also acknowledged the donations he received from the Melbournaires, who in return responded with a standing ovation after he outlined his activities. We are so proud of Gary Sturdy and his ever-supportive wife Dee, and know that once he is on a mission, nothing will stop him.
Last December, the Melbournaires continued a long standing tradition by performing at the Paramount Food Court in the heart of Melbourne. Sometimes accompanied by the tap, tap, tap, of knives and forks on plates, and the occasional slurp, slurp, slurp, of straws sucking up the last of a chocolate milk shake, the patrons were accorded a repertoire of Christmas songs.
This is a favorite gig for the Melbournaires, to help bring seasonal joy to the big city.