It was big, even by Jeff McCloy’s standards – a $1 million cheque for The Salvation Army to start immediate relief work on the ground in cyclone-ravaged Vanuatu.
With his wife and daughters by his side, the former Newcastle lord mayor stood with Salvation Army representatives at Hamilton on Thursday, saying the money would be ‘‘very well spent’’.
‘‘I think it would be great if we could start this national appeal right here in Newcastle,’’ he said. ‘‘The generosity of Novocastrians is well known and … while I am personally committed to this task I am calling on businesses, individuals, sporting groups and churches across the nation to get behind the Salvos’ Vanuatu Cyclone Pam Disaster Appeal by donating generously.
‘‘The immediate challenge is to get food and vegetables to people.’’
Mr McCloy has never been to Vanuatu, but will travel to the island nation with one of his daughters on Monday to begin relief efforts with the Salvos’ international agency workers.
Describing his gesture as ‘‘a no-brainer’’, Mr McCloy said further support was urgently needed.
More than 70per cent of Vanuatu’s population has been displaced by the cyclone, and while the official death toll stands at 11, authorities expect the figure to rise once aid agencies reach remote affected areas.
The divisional commander for The Salvation Army’s Newcastle and Central West arm, Major Gavin Watts, welcomed the donation saying the McCloy family had been ‘‘a very generous donor over many years’’ and had contributed significantly to the construction of the organisation’s new Hamilton headquarters – believed to have been a seven-figure amount.
Thursday’s announcement was the first time Mr McCloy had appeared before a media conference since his brush with the ICAC inquiry which led to his resignation. His appeal will be heard by the High Court later this year.
Despite his philanthropy, he still managed to attract criticism in some quarters on Thursday.
‘‘The haters are going to hate,’’ he said with a shrug. ‘‘But they won’t stop me from trying to help people.
‘‘Can you ask the haters to whip a hat around their mates and raise some money for the appeal? And get them to let me know how much they raise.’’.
Former Newcastle Lord Mayor Jeff McCloy has written a $1 million cheque for The Salvation Army’s relief efforts in cyclone-torn Vanuatu.
Describing his gesture as ‘‘a no-brainer’’, Mr McCloy will help launch the Salvos’ appeal at Hamilton on Thursday afternoon.
Tropical cyclone Pam has left great trails of devastation throughout the island nation and the neighbouring archipelago.
More than 70 per cent of Vanuatu’s population has been displaced, and while the official death toll is put at 11, authorities expect the figure to rise once aid agencies reach remote affected areas.
Source: Newcastle Herald, 19 March 2015