Tyrrell family

Volunteering runs in the Tyrrell family, who have been volunteering in the money counting room at the Good Friday Appeal for more than 50 years.

Working in the counting room at the Good Friday Appeal is a real family affair for Chris Tyrrell and his three sons. Chris, 74, first joined the counting team more than 50 years ago and his sons, now aged in their 40s, came onboard when they were just in their teens.

“They started in the phone room, running messages and helping out, because they were too young to be in the counting room,” Chris said.

Chris Tyrrell and his sons volunteering

Now the four work side by side counting the money that is brought in to the collection centre by Pied Piper groups. For Chris, the impetus to volunteer came from colleagues in the National Australia Bank who were involved. He said he wanted to do something to help the Appeal and was encouraged by his colleagues.

“Now it’s in the kids’ blood – and I’m sure when their kids are old enough they’ll come in too,” Chris said.

For middle son, Martin, the commitment was particularly evident this year. Working as a sound engineer for the popular musical Aladdin, which was showing in Brisbane, he flew in to Melbourne on Good Friday morning to be part of the family volunteering exercise.

Chris Tyrrell with fellow volunteer Jeanette

Another stalwart on the Pied Pipers counting team is Jeanette Barton, who first volunteered as a 17-year-old in 1974. She has often worked with the Tyrrells over the years. 

Like Chris, Jeanette remembers the days when all the counting was done manually and all the tallies had to be balanced before the counters went home some time after midnight. These days, after the manual sorting of notes, a machine makes quick work of the counting and many of the volunteers are home in time to catch the final tally on the Channel 7 telecast.

Jeanette also has a personal reason that drives her commitment to the appeal – her young daughter was one of the first children to have a hole in her heart fixed at The Royal Children’s Hospital. The story featured on the front page of the Herald Sun in 1994.

If you would like to volunteer with the Pied Pipers for the Good Friday Appeal, find out more about their involvement on their website

Words and images: Tricia Quirk

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