Kuttabul sailors help Starlight children celebrate

Published on LEUT Lauren Rago (author), ABIS Bonny Gassner (photographer)

Location(s): Sydney, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Kuttabul, Charities, Fundraising & Community

Able Seaman William Mabo and Jeremy Visser with Luna Park entertainers at the Starlight Children's Foundation annual Christmas party, held at Luna Park, Sydney. (photo: ABIS Bonny Gassner)
Able Seaman William Mabo and Jeremy Visser with Luna Park entertainers at the Starlight Children's Foundation annual Christmas party, held at Luna Park, Sydney.

Seven Royal Australian Navy personnel from HMAS Kuttabul supported the Starlight Children’s Foundation at Luna Park in Sydney last week, helping to brighten the lives of some very special children.

A host of Australian celebrities and organisations descended on the iconic park for an action-packed and fun-filled day, designed to help seriously ill children and their families celebrate the start of the Christmas season.

The Navy team entertained the young and young at heart with a safety equipment display including a ten man life raft, survival gear to handle and try on, a presentation board and a Navy-branded marquee.

One of the Navy teammates, Leading Seaman Edward Holcombe, said it was a good opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause.

“It was fantastic to support the community - some had travelled from as far as Newcastle to enjoy a day on the harbour with their families.

“Once offered the opportunity at Kuttabul there was no shortage of volunteers, a lot of people jumped at the chance to support the community and be a part of a good cause,” said LS Holcombe.

Able Seaman Jeremy Visser and Able Seaman William Mabo mingled with the public distributing Navy paraphernalia, including the popular Navy branded ball caps which kept the hot sun off the children.

AB Visser said the public seemed to really enjoy the interaction with the Navy guys.

“The visitors were able to walk away with tangible items such as souvenir ball caps, cardboard models, foam toys and stationery - all of which they can use and show off to their friends at school,” said AB Visser.

Able Seaman William Mabo said the children and their families were happy to see a Navy presence.

“I think they enjoyed the chance to speak to us one-on-one; they asked many questions and tried on some of the equipment. Most commented on how heavy they thought the boarding party lifejackets and helmets were and how the life rafts are able to hold so many survival aids,” said AB Mabo.

In addition to the Navy display, representatives from Taronga Zoo, Harbour City Ferries and Oz Jet Boats took part by providing presentations and interactive exhibits. Celebrities from popular Australian TV shows, football stars and local personalities also delighted the children.

The Navy team included Warrant Officer Robert Van Eldik, Chief Petty Officer Scott Baker, Leading Seaman Edward Holcombe, Leading Seaman Brendon Chaffer, Able Seaman Jeremy Visser, Able Seaman Jason Cross and Able Seaman William Mabo.

Since 1988, the Starlight Children's Foundation has been brightening the lives of seriously ill and hospitalised children and their families throughout Australia.

Starlight provides programs integral to the total care of seriously ill children – while health professionals focus on treating the illness, Starlight is there to lift the spirits of the child, giving them the opportunity to laugh, play and be a child again.

The Royal Australian Navy is honoured to provide support a wide range of charities throughout NSW and wider Australia.

Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20132360.