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MercyCare launches new fund, London bombing survivor speaks


London bombings survivor Gill Hicks’ remarkable story of resilience was the focus of the 2015 MercyCare Oration held on Thursday, 24 September. Back Row, from left are Auxiliary Bishop Don Sproxton, the Honourable Tony Simpson MLA and Barry McGuire Front row, from left are Chris Hall, CEO MercyCare; Mary Woodford, Chair MercyCare Board; Her Excellency, Honourable Kerry Sanderson AO, Governor of WA, Gill Hicks and Tony Wheeler, Chair MercyCare Trustees. PHOTO: Supplied

By Marco Ceccarelli

London bombings survivor Gill Hicks’ remarkable story of resilience was the focus of the 2015 MercyCare Oration held on Thursday, 24 September at the Hyatt Regency’s grand ballroom.

The oration also coincided with the launch of a special new fund, titled MercyCare’s First Time Ever Fund, to support children who are cared for through MercyCare’s Fostering Services and Family Group Homes.

In the presence of more than 500 attendees, among whom were Auxiliary Bishop of Perth Donald Sproxton; Minister for Local Government, the Hon Tony Simpson MLA; and Governor of Western Australia, the Hon Kerry Sanderson AO, Ms Hicks shared her remarkable story of survival in the face of tragedy.

Standing only feet away from the suicide bomber on the Kings Cross train on that fateful 7 July 2005, Ms Hicks was the last person to be rescued from the wreckage. Her ability to tourniquet her leg wounds and the persistence of the medical team that found her, significantly contributed to her survival.

She suffered severe and permanent injuries, losing both her legs from below the knee.

Drawing on remarkable resilience and determination to triumph against all odds, Ms Hicks has devoted the last ten years to passionately advocating for peace.

In her speech, Ms Hicks focused on three fundamental values that contributed to her amazing recovery: courage, compassion and respect.

She drew a parallel between her experience and the vision that drives agencies such as MercyCare, emphasising the value of MercyCare’s work in aged care, family, health and community services.

“Wonderfully, there are so many values that we share,” Ms Hicks said.

“In preparing this oration, I was filled with a spectrum of emotions, mostly the areas where so many have made such a difference to my quality of life. This care, this dedication to the rebuilding and repositioning of me into a place of strength and independence resonated so brilliantly with the work done through MercyCare services.”

Ms Hicks went on to share a number of insights on the importance of the kind, courageous, and loving people she was surrounded by throughout her journey from near-death experience to public advocate for initiatives of coexistence.

MercyCare Chief Executive Officer Chris Hall said MercyCare was delighted to welcome Ms Hicks to share her inspirational story at the 2015 Oration.

“Many Australians are familiar with Ms Hicks’ story. Her triumph in the face of such tragedy is a true embodiment of many of the guiding values of respect, courage, compassion, integrity and justice which underpin MercyCare’s vision for people and communities to thrive,” Mr Hall said.

In reference to the launch of MercyCare’s First Time Ever Fund at the Oration, Mr Hall said the fund helps support MercyCare’s vision to break cycles of disadvantage, enabling children in the organisation’s care to thrive.

“MercyCare’s Foster Care program and Family Group Homes provide children with the opportunity to experience a lot of ‘firsts’. For some children, this might be the first time they feel protected, the first time that they can safely explore who they are and who they want to be; the first time they have choices, and are free to play like any other child and see real hope for their future,” Mr Hall said.

“The First Time Ever Fund is based on the premise that we want to help expand the ‘first time ever’ experiences that most of us take for granted during our childhood - family holidays, camps with peers, trips to the zoo.

“The First Time Ever Fund will help to provide children and teenagers in our care with positive experiences that will help to shape their sense of identity as ‘people who matter’.”

MercyCare Fostering Services provides short-, medium- and long-term care, as well as respite care, and support for children and young people who are unable to live with their families due to a variety of circumstances.

In addition, MercyCare works in partnership with the Department for Child Protection and Family Support through its Family Group Homes to care for children aged from three to 18 years old who cannot live at home.

MercyCare is a leading Catholic provider of aged care, family, health and community services. The agency employs over 700 staff and 150 volunteers, delivering services from more than 30 locations throughout Western Australia.

To donate to the First Time Ever Fund, visit Gifts over $2 are tax-deductible.