MOTORCYCLE TOY RUN: John Smithy Smith and Don Cook gearing up for last year's charity event.
MOTORCYCLE TOY RUN: John Smithy Smith and Don Cook gearing up for last year's charity event. Mike Knott

Community mourns loss of charity hero Don Cook

BUNDABERG has been dealt a huge blow this week, after a highly respected and well-known hero of the community was lost.

Don Cook was a loving husband of 60 years, father, grandfather and volunteer who devoted his time over the years to help those less fortunate.

He passed away on Sunday.

The man with a heart of gold worked tirelessly over the years, volunteering and helping raise funds for organisations including the Lions Rotary, Salvation Army and the Tom Quinn Centre.

He started the Drug Arm street van, offering an outreach program to the homeless and was behind the redeveloped Tom Quinn Centre, providing support for many as chaplain of the drug and alcohol rehabilitation refuge and suicide prevention group.

In addition to his longstanding and hard work as a volunteer, Don also started the Salvation Army Toy Run which has been active for the last 26 years and he was actively involved in the Kmart Wishing Tree appeal.

But sadly, unlike the last 26 years of the Salvation Army's annual toy run, Don will not be riding the motorcycle this year.

Don's daughter Janelle Trebbin said the enormous loss would be felt by family, friends and the community as a whole.

"He loved giving back to people and we have about five albums full of newspaper clippings about all the incredible work he did," Ms Trebbin said.

"His family meant everything to him … he was very proud of his family and grandchildren."

But life for the loving family man and volunteer took a turn when he started suffering from significant health issues.

"Dad had every specialist in Bundy and every operation you could possibly think of," Ms Trebbin said.

"In fact, the specialists used to make jokes and say 'God put him on this earth to challenge specialists' and that he was.
"There were a few scary moments but Dad would always say his work wasn't done and when it was, that would be the time he moved on to his next place."

While Don's passing will no doubt be a huge loss for the entire community, his legacy and dedication to help others will live on in Bundaberg forever.

"Dad helped a lot of people less fortunate to get back on their feet and he got a real joy out of that," Ms Trebbin said.
The community is invited to celebrate the life of Don Cook at a service on Friday at 2pm.

Des Allen Funerals will run the service at the Salvation Army precinct, at 110 McCarthy St, Bundaberg.

To honour Don, his life and his work as a chaplain and volunteer, his family respectfully request that no flowers are purchased and donations are made to the Tom Quinn Centre instead.

The Salvation Army Motorcycle Toy Run will be on Saturday, December 7, with riders gathering at the Bargara Beach "Basin" at 9am and various locations will be available to drop off toy donations.

For more information, contact John Smith on 4151 0542.