After Vicki Jellie’s husband, Peter, died from oesophageal cancer in 2008, she decided to create a charity to build a much-needed cancer treatment centre in regional Victoria.
Thanks to her passion and determination, Peter’s Project, named after her husband, raised more than $5 million dollars, and in July 2016 the South West Regional Cancer Centre was opened in Warrnambool.
The centre allows cancer patients the option of treatment close to home instead of a stressful five-hour trip to the city.
For the first seven years after she established Peter’s Project, Vicki worked full-time and ran the charity from her kitchen table.
But, then as the pressure grew to reach the required $5 million mark, she gave up her paid job and worked in a voluntary capacity for the next year and a half.
This dedication led to Vicki being awarded the Local Hero Award at the Australia Day Awards ceremony earlier this year.
Speaking about the experience, Vicki said that she was humbled to receive the award.
“When you set out to do something for the community or achieve something, myself and most people do it because of the passion they’ve got, without a thought of any accolades or anything like that,” said Vicki.
“I’m a pretty private person so I found it quite hard to accept.”
“But in saying that, I accepted the award on behalf of my community because I had a great community behind me helping me to achieve the goal we wanted. It was a lovely acknowledgement that felt unnecessary.”
Vickie said the opening of the centre in 2016 was her “proudest moment”
“Since opening they have probably treated about 480 patients and that’s a lot in this region,” she said.
“We were told years ago that we would need to treat 200 patients a year, so it’s surpassed what we set out to do.”
The best piece of advice that Vicki has received was from a little saying she got from a primary school which she visited when they were raising funds for Peter’s Project.
“Part of their school motto was ‘nothing is impossible’ and I’ve taken that with me ever since I went to visit those children. And with Peter’s Project we’ve proven that nothing is impossible because we were up against the odds when we tried to get this cancer centre.
“From the start we were told it would never happen, so to be able to achieve it in a relatively short time, that’s been something that I’ve sort of lived by and you can relate that little saying to anything, whether it’s building a bus shelter or putting in a garden.”
It has been a big achievement in a short amount of time.
Peter’s Project continues to grow and is now the Peter’s Project Foundation.
After the centre was built, $1.6 million, which the community donated, was left over and this was invested into the Peter’s Project Foundation which donates annual contributions to regional hospitals for cancer services.
“People still give money we don’t ask for, but people still donate because they know the money is going back to the community.” Vicki said.
For more information on Peter’s Project Foundation click here.