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Red Cross President becomes Pacific mentor

Michael Legge steps down

When Michael Legge, AM, steps down as Red Cross Board President on December 2, he’d be forgiven for ending his 30-year association with the charity and having a well-earned rest.

But, true to form, the committed humanitarian will continue his involvement as a mentor for Pacific sister societies and leaves for Samoa on December 4.

“I’ve been asked to work in international governance as an analyst and facilitator for the IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross) and ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross),” he said.

“I will support and mentor governance members in the Pacific.”

Governance tops Mr Legge’s list of achievements during his time as Australian Red Cross President, with equal gender balance on the Board and the development and implementation of Strategy 2020 the highlights.

“That has put the organisation in good stead for the next 100 years,” said the Tasmanian wool grower who started his career with Red Cross as a volunteer ambulance driver 30 years ago.

While Mr Legge has travelled extensively during his tenure and met many famous people, it was the devastation of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that left an indelible mark.

“It was the biggest international disaster with 230,000 people killed and it was the biggest thing that engaged me and the organisation,” he said.

“Watching the rebuilding after the tragedy was incredible. The IFRC took an uninhabited island in the Maldives and built a community for 3,500 people with an international workforce coming together.”

Mr Legge, who served as President for six years, Deputy President for eight years and Blood Service Board member for 10 years, will retire to his property ‘Hanleth’ near Avoca in Tasmania’s Fingal Valley.

While he has also stood down from his Board position with Launceston Church Grammar School and a several other Boards, students will continue to use the family property for camps and outdoor education.

“I get a great sense of achievement out of supporting others and sharing what I’ve got,” he said, adding that community service is a family tradition with his ancestors being involved in the building of St Mary’s hospital in Tasmania.

Mr Legge plans to spend more time with family – son Tom and daughters Olivia and Millie - and travel with his wife, Sophie, who was the one who first encouraged him to sign up as a volunteer with Red Cross.

“She was a medical professional at St Mary’s hospital and, more often than not, she was the attendant in the back of the ambulance when I was driving.”

Mr Legge said he was leaving Australian Red Cross in a good financial position, with good governance practices and “fantastic programs” offered to the communities across Australia.

“Equally, I’m leaving the organisation with good relationships with stakeholders, especially the Australian Government and the Department of Foreign Affairs. Hopefully I’m leaving the organisation with people who enjoy working for us, volunteering and being a member.”

For more information or to interview Michael Legge, please contact Heather Smith, (02) 9229 4121 or hsmith@redcross.org.au

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