Newcastle Herald

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INTERVIEW with – Michelle Faithfull.

You are one of 10 people in NSW chosen to take part in a Life Change Adventures TV fund-raising challenge for Ronald McDonald House with celebrity Ricki-Lee. Did you expect to be picked, and what is your challenge?

I thought I might have been in with a good chance, given my history of fundraising, but I never actually expected to be chosen. My individual challenge is to raise $15,000 by September. The team is aiming for over $150,000. Part A of the challenge is to raise the money. Part B is the team is whisked away to an unknown destination for a week, where we’ll be challenged both physically and emotionally and all filmed for a documentary series to be aired on Channel 7 in 2016.

Are you nervous about being filmed out of your comfort zone a la I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here?

I’m up for anything. Life is short and you only get one shot. My motto has always been ‘‘Why not?’’ If it’s for a good cause, then bring it on!

Your fundraising activities are extensive and include trekking the Great Wall of China, the Kokoda Trail and to Machu Picchu, staging golf days and volunteering. Have you kept a collective tally on the amount you’ve raised so far?

At a rough estimate, I should reach about $70,000 by the end of this year.

Is there any moment that prompted you to donate your time and money to others?

Spending four long months in the intensive care nursery at Cairns Base Hospital with my first-born, daughter Jessica, back in 1987 opened my eyes to the work of the wonderful people not only in our medical services industry, but the charities that support them. I made a pact back then, that I would give back to the community when the time was right and over the last 10 years I’ve been fulfilling that dream.

Do businesses give enough to charity?

Some do more than others in the way of donations but I would love to see more organisations afford their staff time off to volunteer for charities, thus encouraging a greater philanthropic spirit among the community in general, not just business owners.

You have worked in sectors including legal, transport, emergency services, HR and recruitment, and recently had a spell in between full-time jobs. What did you learn?

In the scheme of things, I haven’t had too much downtime, to be honest, but the one thing I have learned is to believe in your abilities, trust your gut and stay true to your values. Aligning yourself with the right organisation (with similar values to your own) is integral for sustainability from both perspectives.

Do you think employers are biased against the over 50s set?

Having worked in recruitment and dealt with many an employer who were frightened of Gen Y and their propensity to job-hop, I found that a large proportion of them were more inclined to employ older people who have had a steady career in just a few organisations.

What’s your most unusual job?

Moving to Cairns in 1986 and starting up a road transport company moving freezer/chiller freight between Cairns and Karumba. This led to starting a major shipping company which serviced remote communities in Far North Queensland up to Thursday Island and the Gulf of Carpentaria.

You’ve roped Dudley band Benjalu into performing at a fundraiser at Lizotte’s on August 13. Why Benjalu?

I discovered them in their early days and fell in love with their unique sound. The boys have become good friends and are always keen to help out when they can. This is the second time at Lizotte’s for one of my fundraising events, the first one in 2011 was a sell-out and I expect the same will happen again next month. It’ll be an amazing night and it’s all for a fantastic cause – Ronald McDonald House.

Who are the people who most inspire you in business?

Leaders who energise and create a sense of direction and purpose for their employees. Innovation is all about change and, if a business owner can create excitement and momentum around that, then they’ve won me over.

If you could start a business tomorrow, what would it be?

I’ve had my time owning a business and I’ve moved past the motivation to do it again. However, if I could be paid for doing the things I love, I’d spend my time between running events for charity and travelling the world participating in social impact activities and documenting it all through photography.

Tickets to Michelle’s next fundraiser with Benjalu can be bought at lizottes.com.au

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