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From one man’s inspiration, many children have reaped benefits. In 1967, on a routine flight to Hawaii, Qantas Chief Steward Pat McGann OAM (1930-2011) (pictured right in 2007 with his wife, Maureen) read an article about a young Brisbane boy dying of leukaemia. He immediately “passed the hat” around his crew so they could buy toys for the boy during his final days. However, when they arrived home, the child had passed away.
That was when Pat decided to give the toys to the children at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC).
Pat was so impressed with the work of RIDBC that he formed an auxiliary which he named “Pathfinders” – after the famed squadron which dropped flares to “light the way”, for airborne assaults during World War II.
Today, Pathfinders’ members consist of Qantas Cabin Crew, Tech Crew, Ground Staff and ex-Qantas staff. To raise money for the children at the RIDBC Pathfinders hold several events each year including a Trivia Quiz night, the Revue, Pathfinders Lottery, the Charity Flight and of course the Annual Jumbo Joy Flight for children with disabilities and disadvantaged backgrounds.
Over its history, Pathfinders have raised over $5.9million and have become one of the most successful fundraising auxiliaries in Australia. When Pat first started the group, they were a very social bunch. The same can be said today – all Pathfinders activities are based around “fun”. The Trivia Night is known far and wide and the Revue is a “sell out”, each year. However, the Annual Jumbo Joy Flight is one event where seeing the delight on the faces of all those kids is a truly memorable experience.
Pat McGann passed away at his home in Queensland on 24 February 2011, at the age of 80, after a long illness. Pat and Maureen were guests of honour at the Pathfinders’ 40th Anniversary Dinner in Sydney in 2007. Both loved to hear what Pathfinders are doing and are justly proud that the little auxiliary Pat set up in 1967 continues to assist children to reach their full potential in life.
With ongoing support from Qantas crew and staff, Pathfinders will continue their fundraising activities for the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. If you would like to join us, or would like details regarding Pathfinders, or upcoming events, please contact Kaye Bailey, Co-ordinator, Clubs and Auxiliaries, on (02)9872 0329 email email@example.com.