Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 5 2009 Contents 25
Mrs Margaret McNaughton
One member of the Newcastle community
that is no stranger to the charitable work of HMAS
Newcastle, is Mrs Margaret McNaugton, the Ship’s
Lady. Mrs McNaughton was Lady Mayoress of the
City of Newcastle for nine years and was present at
the 1993 commissioning of the ship. She continues
her work for charity in the Newcastle community and
maintains a very close relationship with the ship and
the Hunter Orthopaedic School.
“I am absolutely ecstatic and very proud of
HMAS Newcastle receiving the Navy League
Community Award. I want to congratulate the
entire ship’s company for their tireless work in our
community,” she said.
The Great North Walk that the crew undertook
last year, brings back fond memories for Mrs
“What really impressed me was that the crew
was so giving of their time, the amount of people that
volunteered was fantastic,” Mrs McNaughton said.
“I farewelled the crew at Garden Island when they
started the Great North Walk and I think some of them
thought it might have been a nice little stroll!
“The work that the crew do when they visit the
school is just amazing. When they host the school on
board everybody pitches in. I have seen the young
sailors lift the children out of their wheelchairs
and put them in the Captain’s seat – the children
absolutely love it.
“A marvellous bond has been formed between
the ship, the city and the school and I know that
this will continue into the future. I just get goose
bumps whenever I hear of anything to do with HMAS
Newcastle, particularly when I heard that they were
the very deserving winners of the Navy League’s
“The relationship between the school and the
ship means so much for the students, parents and
staff here,” Ms Sellers said.
“The fact that a huge ship would want to
be a part of our tiny little school is amazing.
Obviously the financial benefits are very welcome
but also emotionally, we are really proud to be
associated with the Navy.”
In 2008, the crew of the Newcastle
conducted a fundraising activity that saw them
trek the Great North Walk from Sydney to
Newcastle with the aim of raising money for
much needed equipment for the school. Ten days,
hundreds of leeches later and $10,000 richer,
the team made it to Newcastle where a civic
reception was held to celebrate the achievement
and to hand over a cheque for funds raised.
“With the generous effort of the crew we
were able to buy a Motomed, a piece of equipment
that lets the children exercise their bodies while
still in their wheel chairs,” Ms Sellers said. “It has
been wonderful to have and plays an integral role
in the children’s physio activities.”
The Commanding Officer of Newcastle,
Commander (CMDR) Justin Jones, was quick to
deflect credit for the award.
“I took command two weeks after the Great
North Walk was completed so essentially I have
inherited this award. It definitely belongs to the
ship’s company,” CMDR Jones said. “The crew
don’t do these things to get recognised, it is just
what they do. It is one of the most meaningful
awards that a ship can be given in its time.”
Apart from regular fundraising activities
throughout the year, the crew also visits the school
when they can, to conduct any maintenance work
that needs doing.
“The crew has helped us by laying paths so
the children can get to their hydrotherapy pool,
planting donated trees, installing power points and
putting radios in our school buses and this sort of
support is so appreciated, “ Ms Sellers said.
The ship's yearly fundraising program is
the domain of the Welfare Committee, which
gets together to brainstorm ideas for the ships
“The ship’s company get very involved and
some people get quite passionate about it – I love
it when that happens because you can let them
take the lead on thinking about how they want to
approach it,” CMDR Jones said.
Encouraging his sailors to get widely involved
with the community is very important to CMDR Jones.
“I am really focussed on Navy’s broader
engagement with the community,” CMDR Jones said.
“We try, as much as possible, to spend time
with other members of the community and I say to
my crew to feel free to invite them onboard to see
how the ship works.”
“We have hosted Victorian bushfire victims
(in addition to raising $1500 for the Victorian
Fire Appeal), talked to school delegations about
leadership, and we regularly keep in touch with the
cadet units that we sponsor.”
So, what has Newcastle got planned for their
major fundraising effort for 2009? CMDR Jones is
keeping his cards close to his chest on this one.
“We are still yet to finalise the details but
let me say, this is going to be bigger and more
ambitious than we have ever undertaken and I am
looking forward to seeing the results,” he said.
HMAS Newcastle walks tall By Leila Daniels
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