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10 years on Image

10 years on

Issue 22, October – November 2007
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Away from the desk Image

Away from the desk

The little bent tree
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Chamber update Image

Chamber update

Harbour Town is rebranding
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Councillor Profile Image

Councillor Profile

The making of a Lord Mayor
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Docklander Image

Docklander

Melbourne’s history through costumes
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Docklands Secrets Image

Docklands Secrets

Politician disrespects us
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Fashion Image

Fashion

Top five street style trends
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Good News Bill Image

Good News Bill

A journey through the past of Docklands
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Health and Wellbeing Image

Health and Wellbeing

Laughter, the key to working together
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Letters Image

Letters

Begging to differ
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New Businesses Image

New Businesses

Morgan Brooks & Tolhurst Druce Emerson
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Owners Corporation Law Image

Owners Corporation Law

Not all liability policies are created equal
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Pets Corner Image

Pets Corner

The very social Axl
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SkyPad Living Image

SkyPad Living

Activating vertical villages
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We Live Here Image

We Live Here

Short-stays behind property price pain
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Meet the $1 million tin shaker

06 Nov 2017

It’s fair to say that Tony Comley is on a crusade for veterans’ welfare.

When most of us are still asleep, he’s been up since 4am driving to the start of a suburban train line so he can set up his collection position on the Bourke St concourse before 6am. In the afternoon he’ll take up a similar position to greet homeward bound commuters at the end of the line.

Mr Comley will do this for four or five months a year – around the significant occasions of Anzac Day, Legacy Week, Vietnam Veterans Day, Remembrance Day and the Annual Weary Dunlop Service.

Weary Dunlop has a special place in this story, for it was he who saved the life of Tony’s father Alf, a prisoner of war at Hellfire Pass on the notorious Burma Railway in World War II.

Tony relates that Sir Weary rescued an unconscious Alf Comley from a Japanese guard who was beating his father to death because he was unable to continue working after 35 hours straight.

“Nagasaki” Alf survived the war but the trauma never left him and the consequences were passed to Tony’s generation in the form of alcohol abuse and family violence.

Tony himself suffers a disability and held a number of part-time jobs such as cleaning and driving before receiving a disability pension.

Tony’s full-time job is now raising money for veterans’ causes – and he’s the best in the business. He predicts that, by next Anzac Day, he will have raised $1 million over the past 19 years.

The 66-year-old is currently up to $959,000 and he looking for help from Docklanders to boost this number over the magic million mark while’s he away in Thailand on Remembrance Day. Locals can transfer funds to the Greensborough RSL’s welfare fund (BSB: 063185 Account: 11120821) and reference “Tony Poppy”.

Tony says he is driven by a pact he made with God after finding his father alone on the floor and locked in his home, many days after having suffered a stroke.

“I thought he was dead,” he said. “He was cold and I hugged him for a while and he came good. It was like he came back from the dead and now I’m doing my part of my deal with God.”

He explained that he felt enormous guilt because he father lived only six houses away, but he neglected to call in on him because of the violent, drunken abuse that may ensue.

“Now I’m a worker on the front line,” he said. “I’m not the smartest bloke and I know I talk too much, but I’ve got a big heart and I love helping people.”

Tony is an emotional guy and wells up with tears when talking of peoples’ generosity.

“The people are magnificent,” he said. “They open their hearts and their wallets and purses. They are just so giving.”

He said Legacy was an amazing organisation which had often touched his family.

The latest support followed the suicide of his nephew on Father’s Day 2011. His nephew served with the Australian Federal Police in the Solomons and East Timor and left behind a wife and two young children.

He says an electric wheelchair drastically improved his father’s life in later years because it gave him dignity.

He also tells the story of “Joel”, a 26-year-old Afghanistan veteran who became a quadriplegic in an accident while home on leave.

“The Greensbrough RSL sent him to the USA for therapy and training to strengthen and support him in his quest to walk,” he said.

It was his father’s situation that drew him to his cause and it’s the reward of giving that keeps him coming back to Docklands with his trolley and donation tin.

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