Drivers relish 20 years of helping sick kids

Genie (Colin Gildersleve), SpongeBob SquarePants (Simon Mack) and Rio (Ron Gawthorne) prepare for Radio Lollipop day. Picture: Marcus Whisson
Genie (Colin Gildersleve), SpongeBob SquarePants (Simon Mack) and Rio (Ron Gawthorne) prepare for Radio Lollipop day. Picture: Marcus Whisson

Transperth has held Radio Lollipop uniform free day on the third Wednesday in March fundraising for the organisation since it was established in Perth in 1995.

During that time, Transperth has raised more than $1 million to help comfort and put smiles on sick children’s faces across six West Australian hospitals.

Path Transit area manager Kalamunda contract Colin Gildersleve, who works at the Morley depot, said his first memory of the inaugural uniform free day at the Causeway depot was seeing a bus driver leave in the morning dressed as an Australian icon.

‘My first recollection of that day was about 5am when one of the first buses was going out in the dark; I looked out the window and saw the driver sitting there dressed as (a character from) Priscilla Queen of the Desert,’ he said.

‘It was unbelievable because you always had to be in full uniform and to see this guy going out in that was incredible, that memory is still with me.’

Mr Gildersleve said the introduction of the annual fundraiser changed the atmosphere across the bus depots, bringing fun and a relaxed feel to the workplace that continued to this day.

Regional operations and service performance manager Ron Gawthorne said the fundraiser had that much of an impact on workplace morale that sick leave dropped that day.

He said there was healthy competition between the depots on the day to see which team could raise the most money and that it was an entertaining day.

Mr Gawthorne said the work of Radio Lollipop and Princess Margaret Hospital was remarkable, having spent time there with his own children when they were young for minor treatment.

As a grandfather, Mr Gildersleve said the thought of having a sick child in hospital was absolutely terrible and unimaginable, which made the day more poignant.

Transperth staff members will be on buses on March 18 collecting donations while a team of employees and volunteers will be at the Esplanade and Perth Underground stations rattling tins to collect contributions. To donate, visit www.transperth.wa.gov.au and click the Radio Lollipop banner.

Lauren Pilat