SA cricket icon leads Sandakan trek in honour of Diggers
Renowned former Adelaide Oval curator Les Burdett will swap the manicured grass of a cricket pitch for the inhospitable jungle terrain of Borneo when he leads a group of South Australians along the infamous Sandakan Death March trail to commemorate ANZAC Day this week.
Les and 12 participants representing the Little Heroes Foundation will follow in the footsteps of hundreds of Australian prisoners of war when they set out on their arduous journey on April 22, which will include attendance at the official ANZAC Day dawn service at Sandakan.
In 1945, during World War II, the Japanese army forced 2000 Australian and other Allied prisoners of war to march 260km across the mountains of northern Borneo from Sandakan to Ranau in a desperate attempt to evade advancing Allied troops in appalling conditions.
In all, 1787 Australians died in the camp at Sandakan, along the death marches, or in the camp at Ranau. Only six Australian escapees survived what is widely regarded as the biggest single atrocity ever committed against Australians at war.
Les said he is extremely humbled at the opportunity to honour Australian soldiers in such a way, while also raising money for a worthy cause.
“This trek is my personal way of paying tribute to the thousands of Australian diggers who died for their country and to protect the freedom that we as later generations now enjoy.
“It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about Sandakan and the appalling events that took place there. The history of the Kokoda Trail and Gallipolli are well known but Sandakan seems to have been forgotten, we owe it to those who lost their lives there to honour them.”
The Little Heroes Foundation raises funds for urgently needed medical facilities and treatment equipment, and “Life After Diagnosis” child and family support programs relative to childhood cancer and serious illness. The Foundation’s vision is to help diagnosed children to rediscover and enjoy their enthusiasm for life.
One of the participants involved in the trek, Brock Harcourts CEO SA and father of three Greg Moulton, says the work of the Little Heroes Foundation is close to his heart.
“As a father myself I can’t begin to imagine how difficult and heartbreaking it must be for a parent to see a child battle against cancer or other serious illness,” he said.
“The wide variety of practical and emotional programs funded by the Little Heroes Foundation makes such a difference to these families and I am very proud to help fundraise whatever I can to help them continue their work.
“I think those us of who work in the corporate sector often become too focused on looking out for where the next opportunity to make a profit will come from, but I believe to be truly successful a business needs to focus on its people and its wider role in the community.
“I saw this trek as a fantastic opportunity to commemorate the generation of Australians who gave their lives for their country and community, and to raise awareness and funds for a charity that does such vital work to help the next generation of South Australians.”
The Little Heroes Foundation team aims to raise in excess of $50,000 from corporate and public sponsorship to support the charity’s ChildFamilyCare program. Donations can be made online at http://littleheroesfoundation.com.au/Donations/Borneo.aspx.
ABOUT LITTLE HEROES FOUNDATION
The Little Heroes Foundation supports children living with cancer and serious illness, and their families at a time when they need it most. It assists families from the point of diagnosis, and through the rest of their journey, by providing information, guidance, emotional and practical support through a variety of programs and services.
Funds raised are primarily directed towards the national development and delivery of services and programs to children and their families directly through Little Heroes Foundation’s ChildFamilyCare program. These programs are supported by various hospital networks, professional service providers, various allied health professionals and clinicians, and through the involvement of a number of ambassadors including prominent sportspeople Anna Meares, Sophie Edington, Natalie Von Bertouch and Nathan Van Berlo.
The Foundation also supports capital programs that provide for the introduction or upgrading of urgently needed medical facilities and treatment facilities including the new MRI machine and state-of-the-art Michael Rice Centre for Haematology & Oncology at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Adelaide.
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