The Good Friday Appeal: Radio’s enduring connection


There is a tissue processing machine at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital named after radio host Neil Mitchell.

The two parts of the machine were dubbed ‘Neil’ and ‘Mitchell’ by the RCH Lab Services Team, to thank the 3AW Mornings presenter for his ongoing support of the hospital.

In 2020, the Neil’s Wheel fundraiser raised $213,000 to fund the machine, which – for young patients – has meant faster and more accurate diagnoses and less need for painful surgery.

Radio continued its long association with Melbourne’s Good Friday Appeal last week, with 3AW broadcasting live from the Royal Children’s Hospital

Mitchell – along with Heidi Murphy and Denis Walter – went to air live from the hospital lobby, again encouraging Victorians to dig deep.

During her three hours on air, Murphy invited calls from listeners about their own personal stories involving the hospital, and the special bonds that have been formed.

“I lot of people have a deep personal link to this place. What I love most about today is the stories – those stories of deep personal connection,” Murphy said.

Radio has enjoyed an enduring connection with the appeal, which began in 1931.

With the Royal Children’s facing closure back then, a group of local sports journalists from The Sporting Globe newspaper spearheaded a push to save the hospital, coming up with the idea of a charity sports carnival.

By 1942, it was time for a rethink of the format. That’s when radio station 3DB came on board.

Carnival organiser Jim Blake had suggested to the Herald and Weekly Times Managing Director Sir Keith Murdoch that the appeal join forces with 3DB and run an appeal on Good Friday.

From yabby races at pubs to neighbourhood cupcake fundraisers and everything in between, the appeal has gone from strength to strength in the decades since.

In 2021, Executive Director Rebecca Cowan noted that The Good Friday Appeal would not have been possible without the support of partners including 3AW, the ACE Radio network, Nova FM and Smooth FM.

And this year, despite tough economic times, Victorians rose to the challenge once again – surpassing last year’s total by raising more than 23 million dollars.

Photo credit: Good Friday Appeal archives.

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