Good Friday Appeal: Bendigo breaks its all-time record




BENDIGO raised a record-breaking $101,843.55 for the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal today. 

Uncle Bobs Club of Bendigo president Carol Maher said the amount was the most the club had ever raised and she was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. 

Ms Maher said she was grateful for the tin collectors, Uncle Bobs Club members and friends, and the media. 

"It is mind-boggling," she said. 

UPDATE 5.45PM: The Good Friday Appeal tally board shows the total for Bendigo stands at $78,814.

Echuca is not far behind on $71,000.

Castlemaine has raised $17,098 and Elmore $6915.

UPDATE: The Gisborne community has raised $11,018.90 for the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

Gisborne Fire Brigade Lieutenant Mark Carter turned to Twitter to thank the community for raising the 'whopping' total.

''Firefighters along with family members and Scouts hit the streets of Gisborne early this morning with the assistance of Gisbus to raise money,'' the Tweet said.

''Lunch was kindly provided by Doonies Diner.''

UPDATE: STAFF at Williamson's FoodWorks in Gisborne are embracing spirit of Easter.

Fifty-five staff members are working for free today and all of the store's proceeds go to the Good Friday Appeal for the Royal Children's Hospital.

Human resources manager Kerry Crowley said the store was open from 9am until 1pm and the customers were loving it.

"It's like a big party atmosphere," she said.

"We've got face painting and the Easter bunny going around giving out hot cross buns.

"There's a lot of staff on: people are getting the special treatment."

She said the community was thrilled with the store's efforts and people had put off their shopping until today so their money would go to the Good Friday Appeal.

"Our customers love it," she said. "It's been great."

The store is owned by local businessman David Williamson, who also owns a store in Sunbury. 

Mr Williamson said this was the third year the two stores had donated all proceeds to the appeal.

He said he started the initiative because, "Most people have had a child whose spent time at the hospital."

He said that his daughter had undergone treatment there and it was worth raising money for. 

He said the two stores last year raised a combined total of $30,000 and he was hoping they would make that much this year too. 

EARLIER: GOOD Samaritans are hopping, dancing and shaking their tins with gusto this morning - all for the Good Friday Appeal.

Along Carpenter Street in Quarry Hill 14 bunnies were energetically bouncing up and down in their quest to garner as many coins as possible.

All were members of an extended family, lead by patriarch and grandfather Lionel Budge. 

Mr Budge said he was raising funds for the Royal Children's Hospital because his daughter and granddaughter had been admitted to the hospital for serious conditions.

"The hospital is just tremendous," he said.

He said the hospital's doctors had saved the life of his daughter Christine, who spent a week there after suffering complications during birth in 1977.

Regarding the bunny suits, Mr Budge said it was the first year the family had worn them but they were hoping the family's extra effort would encourage drivers to dig deep.

"They're a bit of fun," he said.

In the city centre, Jack Lyons - son of mayor Barry and Liberal candidate for Bendigo West - was rattling alongside long-time volunteer Arthur Johnson, who has been standing on the corner of Mitchell Street and Pall Mall every Good Friday for the past 40 years.

Both men were raising money for the Uncle Bobs Club of Bendigo, which would in turn pass the funds on to the hospital. 

Mr Lyons said the volunteer organisation had recruited twice as many tin rattlers this year as last.

Mr Johnson said he volunteers because, "It's something to do and to raise money for the hospital."

He said he raised $2000 last year and was hoping this year - which may be his final - he'd make a record amount.

Meanwhile, in the prime position at the front of Alexandra Fountain, Lachlan Carter was shaking his tin in gratitude for the hospital's help during his darkest hours.

Mr Carter had leukemia as a child and was treated at the hospital.

Thankfully he's healthy now, but he returns to his home town of Bendigo from Melbourne every Easter and has been taking part in the Good Friday appeal for the past eight years.

Volunteers will continue to tin rattle until late this afternoon.

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