Cancer Wellness Raffle raises over $21,000 and won by generous Grampians Health staff member

Monday 18 December 2023
Raffle winner John Bourke is handed his French countryside travel prize by Grampians Health Head of Fundraising, Sarah Masters and Manager of the Wellness Centre Simone Noelker Raffle winner John Bourke is handed his French countryside travel prize by Grampians Health Head of Fundraising, Sarah Masters and Manager of the Wellness Centre Simone Noelker

The second annual Cancer Wellness Raffle, run in partnership between Grampians Health Ballarat and Barry Plant Real Estate, has smashed through last year’s total, raising over $21,000 for the Cancer Wellness Centre at the Ballarat Regional Integrated Cancer Centre (BRICC).

Thanks to the incredible generosity of several local businesses, 100% of ticket sales were able to be donated to the Cancer Wellness Centre. The Wellness Centre receives no government funding and relies on community support to provide its services.

The first prize in the raffle, a week in a French countryside villa and a very generous travel voucher, was won by John Bourke, the Manager of Patient Services at Grampians Health Ballarat. In this role, John looks after clerical staff in the Emergency Department, Admissions and Day Procedure Unit, and soon, switchboard and enquiries staff.

While John has been a familiar face at Ballarat Base Hospital for the last three years, he was known by many people as the Manager of Regent Cinemas for 38 years. During his time at the Regent, John generously donated the cinema for fundraising movie screenings to many charities, including the Wellness Centre. Since moving to Grampians Health, he has consistently supported the many raffle and other fundraising activities in the hospital.

“When I started with Grampians Health, I didn’t realise what was involved and what goes on behind the scenes,” said John. “Often people will come into the Emergency Department, and they may have to wait for hours to be seen. While this can be frustrating, I’m sure if people knew the incredible work that our staff do, in all our departments, they would support fundraising at the hospital.” 

John also explained why the Wellness Centre is so important in treating the whole person, not just their diagnosis.

“My granddaughter is only 18 months old, and she has a neuroblastoma around her aorta. When she was diagnosed, we were so grateful for all the people who reached out to help us. It’s the same as the work that our Wellness Centre does – without that support, you just can’t get through a diagnosis. The Wellness Centre looks after the whole person, not just the tumour.”

Steve Medwell, Program Director of Cancer Services at Grampians Health, was on hand to draw the winning raffle tickets.

“Thanks to the Barry Plant Real Estate team for the tireless work you’ve done, and to all the major sponsors, Frank Ford Travel, Mould Men, Domain and all the community businesses who donated prizes. Raising over $21,000 is a terrific result - we don’t get any government funding for the Wellness Centre, so everything we do in this complementary therapy space is through these initiatives. We can’t thank you all enough.” Mr Medwell said.

“This raffle will fund one-third of the Wellness Centre’s work for the year. We know that the complementary therapy programs on offer at our Wellness Centre are on par with all the major cancer centres in the country – including Peter Mac Cancer Centre, the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the Austin Hospital, Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre.”

Mr Medwell said the Wellness Centre programs are important to our community.

“When you come here to BRICC it’s about the whole model of care and that does create a point of difference for our patients, we provide a different service. It’s not just about medical cancer treatment. It’s really important to us – as staff, we all live in our community, and we all know family members or friends who have received care from us at this hospital. We want to keep building what we’re doing, to keep providing exceptional care, and to keep building programs that support our patients.”

Shane Finch, CEO of Barry Plant Ballarat, was proud to partner with the Wellness Centre for the second annual Christmas Cancer Raffle.

"We are extremely honoured and proud to be a supporter of this truly amazing cause. The Wellness Centre and the programs it offers are crucial to the livelihoods of so many in our community and a credit to all those involved in its day-to-day operation. To be part of something this incredible is heart-warming and a privilege."

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