Cold Hard Cash
By Mick Holton
I awoke to the sound of laughter and looked around me to see the other fire fighters sleeping soundly on the snow. A quick check of my watch revealed that it was just after 3am and strange sounds were emanating from the last remaining night clubbers as they dribbled from Jax, a popular Perisher night spot.
I was amazed at the amount of light that filtered through the icy walls of our temporary home. To be in the Australian snowfields, camping inside an igloo made from compacted snow raising money for the New Childrenís Hospital, Westmead was an incredible experience.
It all began when the manufacturer of an igloo building tool called an ICEBOX approached me. Ed from Grand Shelters Inc in Longmont Colorado USA was looking for a way to introduce his igloo building tool to the Australian public. I was interested to see this new tool for myself so I checked out his web site at www.grandshelters.com
The ICEBOX tool was intriguing, I immediately sent an e-mail suggesting that Ed may wish to donate one of his tools for use in a fundraiser for the Burns Unit. Little did I know what I was getting myself into, the idea of camping inside an igloo to raise money for the Burns Unit snowballed (excuse the pun) into a major event that proved a huge success for all involved.
Ed graciously sent two ICEBOX tools, free of charge. He suggested that we might like to donate one of the tools to Perisher Fire Station for evaluation as a backcountry rescue tool. We built two different sized igloos with the ICEBOX tool and were very impressed with the results. The ICEBOX tools have now been passed on to Wilderness Sports and Perisher Fire Station for further evaluation.
Commissioner offers his full support
The next step was to convince the NSW Fire Brigades and New Childrenís Hospital that this crazy idea was worthy of their support. A few phone calls, faxes and a meeting with the NSW Fire Brigades Commissioner was enough to convince me that there exists a real commitment from the NSW Fire Brigades towards supporting the Burns Unit.
Not only did the Brigade offer logistical support such as vehicles, canteen trailer and cold weather clothing but the Commissioner also suggested that the Brigade should supply some T-shirts with the NSWFB logo, The New Childrenís Hospital and Perisher Blue Ski Resort artwork. The NSWFB Public Relations department made all the necessary arrangements, the T-shirts arrived on time and they sold like hot cakes.
The next hurdle was to find a place to build our igloo and host our fundraiser, not to mention provide the snow (man made if necessary)
The Perisher Blue Ski Resorts Public Relations department was eager to assist us with our fundraiser we spent a lot of time on the phone, sending faxes and met with the Perisher Blue team to plan our event.
Perisher Blue Ski Resort supplied the snow, the space, the people and an ice sculpturer affectionately known as Grassy who crafted a bandaged bear from snow. Itís hard to explain what the sculpture was like but it definitely attracted a lot of people to our stand.
We arrived late on Thursday night (26/8/99) and camped at the fire station. We all noticed how much less snow there was as compared to our trial run only two weeks prior.
Camping at the Perisher fire station was a great experience on its own. The Captain was very supportive and assisted us as much as possible. Perisher and Thredbo fire stations are unique and as a fire service we should be proud of their existence and level of community service in such a harsh environment. We even had an opportunity to respond with Perisher on one occasion to a hazardous materials incident.
Up early on Friday morning, off to a meeting with Perisher Blue Area Manager and we were under way. He was the man in charge of all movements in the valley he arranged all of the on-site logistical requirements such as power for our canteen trailer and track vehicles to tow it into position.
Building our display
We all pitched in to build the igloo from a pile of snow that had been pushed into a heap the night before. The conditions were not favourable, the snow was icy and the temperature never dropped below zero. We battled on to build an igloo with a base diameter of just under 3.5m. It took us almost six hours to build the igloo but we all agree that it could be built in half the time in better conditions.
Whilst the igloo was being constructed the other elements of our fundraiser went into place. Banners were erected, the NSW Fire Brigades All-Terrain fire fighting appliance was driven into place, the Milo trailer towed in and "Grassy" started to sculpt a bandaged bear from the remaining heap of snow.
We started collecting funds immediately by setting up a Coleman cooler with a sign prompting on-lookers to make a donation.
Raising the Dough
Once set up we got serious about collecting cash, we collected approximately one thousand dollars each day. We used many different activities and venues to collect the funds as outlined below:
That first night
After the crowds settled in for the evening we hit the pubs, clubs and night spots (not for refreshments) We ran raffles and continued to collect funds.
Eventually we retired to our igloo for a comfortable nights sleep. Perhaps it was the fact that we were so tired or maybe the fact that we were sleeping inside all the best gear as supplied by the RAAF (on loan unfortunately) but I didnít sleep too badly at all.
Unfortunately it rained overnight and the rain damaged our igloo slightly however it held together and was so strong that Rob Hanly climbed onto it without damage to himself or the igloo.
A dream comes true
A little girl, seven years old, from a one teacher country school in Tootool, NSW once read a story about igloos in a school magazine. She was so fascinated by the story that she yearned to one day see an igloo for herself. That little girl is Alma, she is eighty years old now and thanks to the NSW Fire Brigades, The Man From Snowy River Hotel and all the team her dream has come true.
Alma and her daughter Janice were treated to a weekend full of excitement with luxury accommodation. Alma spent some time inside the igloo and had a ride in the All-Terrain vehicle.
Alma has written a letter expressing her thanks to all involved, she has photos in her "Brag Book" proving to all her friends that she was part of this event.
Thanks to all involved
This event was a huge success with over $4,500 dollars raised and money still coming in. I personally wish to thank all involved without you this would not have been as successful.
Mick Holton, Robert Hanly, Peter Taylor, Warwick Warren, Glen Groves, Wesley Haynes, Bradley Holton and Inspector Bernie Cinders.
The New Childrenís Hospital Fundraising Department
The New Childrenís Hospital has a good level of fund raising support for two reasons:
The NSW Fire Brigades
Every fire fighter knows how much we like to support the Burns Unit / New Childrenís Hospital. Our Commissioner and our PR department obviously have the same level of commitment.
I would like to thank all Fire Brigade staff, who assisted with this event, the list is too long to mention you all.
Perisher Blue Ski Resort
A great place to ski and a great place to conduct a Burns Unit fundraiser.
Hereís a list of companies & how they supported this event:
Grand Shelters Inc ~ Donation of the two igloo building tools.
Mars Confectionary ~ Product donation.
Cadbury Chocolates ~ Product donation.
Milo ~ Hot Milo (approx 150 litres)
Coleman Australia ~ Coolers were donated for raffles.
Wilderness Sports ~ Raffle prises and equipment.
Penrith Net Com ~ A fully functional web site was provided.
RAAF Fairbairn ~ Provided specialist camping equipment.
Arthurs Restaurant ~ Provided excellent meals for our team.
Sydney Laser Cartridge Care ~ Provided printing assistance.
Climbing Madness ~ Provided our web site design.
The Man from Snowy River Hotel ~ Provided luxury accommodation for our special guest.
Letter of thanksBy Alma Puckering
I believe that in this life some of the nicest things happen when you least expect it.
I had a dream fulfilled when I was a guest of the NSW Fire Brigades at Perisher Blue Fundraising for the New Childrenís Hospital Burns Unit recently.
As a child I attended a one teacher country school at Tootool in NSW in the 1920ís where I always looked forward to the school magazine. It was then that I first learnt about igloos and I always had this yearning to visit their country but it came to my own doorstep when the Fire Brigade built an igloo in the Australian snow country. The Brigade boys spent the night in the igloo and I also spent some time inside the igloo thinking back on my own childhood days.
The structure itself looked so authentic. With quite heavy rain falling throughout the day and upon nightfall the Captain of the local fire station arrived in a snow mobile and it was all aboard for some amazing maneuvers before we pulled into our luxury hotel.
To all those who made this possible, I thank you and congratulations you all worked tirelessly.
My 80th birthday and the memory will stay with me always.
Our sponsors and special guests include: NSW Fire Brigades, Perisher Blue, Mars Confectionary, Grand Shelters Inc, Coleman Australia, Wilderness Sports, Singer / Songwriter Robert Hanly, Sydney Laser Cartridge Care, Penrith NetCom, Arthurs Restaurant and Climbing Madness