A FULL of life raconteur, performer and community contributor, Newcastle's Phil Mahoney is the man you call on when you want something done.
And, beaming with pride as he stood at Calvary Mater’s oncology clinic on Sunday, the proof is in the pudding.
Mr Mahoney – who has been involved with fundraising initiatives in the city for four decades – raised the first dollar for the clinic in the mid-1970s, and eventually went on to convince NBN Television that it should host a telethon to secure the much-needed service in 1979.
By 1985, with the telethon proving a huge success, the cancer clinic opened, meaning those who were receiving treatment no longer had to travel to Sydney.
“It was a dream that became a reality,” Mr Mahoney said of the oncology clinic’s opening day.
“I’d been involved with charity events for a long time, but that one really sticks in my mind – you could see the difference the efforts of the Newcastle community made.
“It spared cancer sufferers the trauma of having to travel down to Sydney and stay there for six weeks, being away from their family when they needed their support the most.
“So when it opened, it was a great moment. It was something you never forget.”
Mr Mahoney, who still performs to this day, has been a member of several Newcastle bands in his decades-long on-stage career.
Most notably, Mr Mohoney was a lead vocalist with tribute rock ‘n’ roll band Blackstone Myth, which was popular on the Newcastle circuit in the 1970s.
At its peak, the band attracted Molly Meldrum’s attention, and was profiled in the veteran music journalist’s TV Week column Meldrum’s Humdrum.
The band was also invited to perform on the ABC’s Countdown program.
Mr Mohoney used his music background to propel fundraising initiatives in the city, and has been involved in countless appeals in his years.
Drawing on a community spirit he says is “very much still alive”, the musician’s latest project is envisaged as a screenplay to raise funds for the Fred Hollows Foundation.
Asked what drives him to keep helping out, Mr Mahoney said it was “drummed into him” at school.
“There’s always someone who’s worse off than yourself,” he explained.
“You’ve always got to pitch in and help out when you can. And I’ve always enjoyed it.”
Reflecting on the community’s support with the oncology clinic, Mr Mahoney said “people power” was as vital then as it is today. “The government isn’t always going to come to the table, and we still see that,” he said.