A Day with Leo Sayer | CAN GIVE DAY 2021

08 Nov 2021

The light and joy that Leo brings to those who need it most is something awe-inspiring to watch. From patients having treatment for cancer or after stroke, to staff who've faced challenge after challenge, to the big bosses who carry the concern for all, he brings moments of happiness and distraction. Spending a day with Leo is a once in a lifetime chance to meet a world-famous celebrity who is nothing but genuine, generous... and gregarious. 

Leo became Ambassador for Canberra Hospital Foundation through mutual acquaintance, Peter Munday, Principal Dealer of Lennock Volkswagen. Leo and his partner were buying a car from Peter, when he met Helen, CEO of Canberra Hospital Foundation, for whom Lennock Volkswagen has been a long time supporter and sponsor. Helen asked if Leo was interested in 'doing something for us' with the lure of 'because Peter is'.

"Count me in! I didn't even think about it," Leo said in a recent video Q&A session with members of the Canberra Hospital Choir with whom he performed a virtual song for CAN GIVE DAY 2021.

"I've found it incredibly rewarding to come to the hospital and get friendly with people and the staff. My dad was a hospital engineer and my mother was a nurse. My sister was the Assistant Matron of a children's hospital in London. I come from a tradition of being around hospitals, it's a natural place for me to be, and I'm just so glad I am able to help, it's really good."

He came on board to promote CAN GIVE DAY in 2020, and has become a dedicated 'Doctor of Caring' for the community ever since.

In the lead up to CAN GIVE DAY 2021, there was uncertainty as to whether Leo could join us in person. Everyone was so relieved that easing restrictions allowed him to travel, and with modifications to our CAN GIVE DAY activities, strict check-in's, careful hygiene and mask practices, our big day would be filled with the joy of Leo insitu!

On Friday 29th October 2021, Leo brought the CAN DO attitude to CAN GIVE DAY. It was a big day, full of activities in several locations, with Leo being escorted around town in a beautiful blue Volkswagen by Peter Munday. Leo was assisted by members of the Canberra Hospital Foundation team, the Canberra Health Services staff, and let's not forget, his sidekick, Hearty.


A pleasant and calm start to the day, Leo arrived at the University of Canberra Hospital to help out with their awesome lineup of CAN GIVE DAY activities. A special presentation of a custom 'doctors white coat' gave Leo the welcome and honour he deserved for his role as 'Doctor of Caring'! 

Official presentation done, a tour of the excellent facilities was given by Todd Kaye, Director of Allied Health, Division of Rehabilitation, Aged and Community Services, University of Canberra Hospital (UCH).

From indoor therapy pools, to exercise rooms and outdoor learning environments, Leo was impressed. The peaceful environment gave the small group a chance to appreciate the open spaces, views, artworks and all the little extras that go into making it a world-class purpose-built rehabilitation facility. 

Not least of which was the piano in the foyer, a donation made available for visitors and patients to play and fill the halls with music. Leo hammed it up for photos before he got down to the real work of the day.

Decorated mask judging is a serious business. A lot of effort had been made to take an ordinary piece of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and embellish it to make it a thing of art and beauty. Staff, their family, and patients all got involved in the fundraising activity, with a range of decorated masks presented on a display board.

Leo was more than happy to host a spontaneous live video on social media, whilst he assessed, deliberated and judged the top three masks. The purpose of a particular mask had him stumped, but he worked it out in the end with hilarious results. Watch the video here.

Whilst an exciting Rehathlon took place at the University of Canberra Hospital, Leo and his entourage had to depart for the next scheduled activity, a radio interview on Mix 106.3. Thank you to all staff who supported our fundraising with fun and flavourful activities!


They both love Leo's attention!

Next on the CAN GIVE DAY activities for Leo was a visit to our amazing healthcare heroes at the Mass Vaccination Clinic at the Australian Institute of Sports (AIS) Arena. The Canberra Health Services staff were all flared and sparkly in disco dress-ups for CAN GIVE DAY fundraising!

Leo was on hand for socially-distanced selfies with the staff, and waves to the clients having their vaccinations. Not only were the staff all decked out in amazing outfits, but the arena was filled with decorations, lights and balloons ahead of the Live event happening in the evening. Dazzling!

Leo joined Cam Sullings from Mix 106.3 Canberra to chat about CAN GIVE DAY 2021 and help get the fundraising numbers up, up, up for OUR community! You might be wondering where Miss Piggy comes into this tale (no pun intended) and it will come as no surprise that Leo once featured in a duet with her in New York City, at her insistence! Cam got to know all the behind-the-scenes details, an entertaining story for all the staff and clients in the live audience.


A quick trip from the AIS over to the Canberra Hospital, Leo was met by Caroline McIntyre, Operations Manager of Canberra Health Services.

After a light lunch, the group headed off on a tour of Canberra Region Cancer Centre (CRCC) to meet the staff and patients receiving treatment. Despite the social distancing requirements, Leo was able to extend his well-wishes and connect with patients and staff. He was greeted by staff who knew him well, and patients who had never heard of him! A few bars of 'You Make Me Feel Like Dancing!' was enough for recognition, or in the least, a smile on the face of the new fan.

Leo happily got involved with drawing the winners for the Canberra Region Cancer Centre raffle which raised funds for CAN GIVE DAY 2021. Thank you to all the staff who got involved, and congratulations to those who took home hampers or goodies and lovingly wrapped puzzles.

Now for the action, with the fundraising classic, Wet Sponge Toss at the Boss. Leo joined CEO Dave Peffer, and EMB of Comms David Jean of Canberra Health Services, who had 'volunteered' to help raise money for #CanGiveDay2021. 

Much hilarity ensued, with some misses and some perfect hits from those who had lined up to partake in a cheeky way to get a sneaky whack at the bosses. Money well spent was the general vibe! Then it was time to 'level up' the activity with an impromptu 'ice bucket challenge', for Peter Munday who willingly parted with $200 for the pleasure of tipping the whole bucket of water over Dave Peffer

Hey, here's Hearty, just in time to launch a wet sponge, with limited success due to his arm reach. But Hearty put his heart into it before everyone headed off to the next stop.

The Women, Youth and Children team at the Centenary Hospital were dressed to impress, as Leo and the gang were welcomed by the Mad Hatter! Acting Executive Director, Associate Professor Boon Lim gave an amazing wrap up of their Spooktacular fundraising activities, which truly lifted Leo's spirits.

He returned the favour by judging the fancy dress costume competition, but also singing a song with his own brand of improv, via a video meeting with the staff. A magical moment to hear Leo sing without backing music or instruments, his voice vibrating through the screen and into their hearts, the added humour bringing smiles to the face of these hardworking people.

Thank you to everyone at W, Y & C who baked and bought, dressed up (and dressed up their dogs), had their children colour in, and got involved in CAN GIVE DAY 2021. 


Back to the AIS, it's almost time for CAN GIVE Live, a live streamed singing competition. From a group of enthusiastic auditionees, nine finalists were chosen to compete for the title of Live winner, plus prizes that included $2000, a mentoring session with Leo and a paid spot on the line up of an upcoming summer concert.

Live-streamed to our audiences, the performers took to the stage and sang their hearts out, whilst their family, friends and loved ones donated to cast their vote. Following each performance, Leo, along with other celebrity judges Lucy Sugerman and Gemma Maddox, gave their impressions and reflected on how they thought the performance had gone.

Along with points scored by the celebrity judges, the fundraising efforts contributed to the overall winner. After some deliberation and discussion, the winner was announced as Jessica Maree! You can read all about Jessica, including what she is most looking forward to in her mentoring session with Leo here

Leo has an amazing career filled with experiences, highlights and knowledge that he can offer during the mentoring sessions with Jessica. Leo, for those who don't already know, is an English-Australian singer-songwriter musician and entertainer, settled in the NSW South Coast, whose singing career has spanned four decades. With number 1 songs, awards and millions of fans around the world, Leo is an everlasting force in the music industry.

But Leo is much more than his impressive bio and career. He is a humble, wonderful and generous Ambassador. Thank you, Leo, for talking the talk and walking the walk for your community! Our Canberra Hospital Foundation Ambassador brightened the whole day… meeting patients, thanking staff, impromptu singing, participating in activities, judging and being shown around our wonderful Canberra Health Services facilities.

Most importantly, he played a huge part in showing our healthcare heroes, and our patients, how much they mean to us.

Thank you for supporting CAN GIVE DAY 2021. With heartfelt gratitude, we want to acknowledge the amazing contributions from our healthcare heroes, and teams who got involved with activities/ fundraising. Thank you to our community and generous donors. 

Thank you to our changemakers, Capital Chemist Group, Lennock Volkswagen Phillip, Tall Foundation, GIO Insurance, The Liangis Family, Richard and Deb Rolfe, and Well and Wise.

Thank you to our Event Sponsors, Lennock Volkswagen Phillip, Event AV Services, East Hotel, Rhapsody Management, and Media Partners, Mix 106.3 Canberra and Hit104.7, and the AIS. 

Thank you to all our Live singing contestants, and celeb judges, Leo Sayer, Gemma Maddox, Lucy Sugerman and host, Sophie Edwards.

Thank you to our LEGO contestants & Canberra LEGO Users Group.

Thank you to everyone who shared, engaged and supported. Thank you to our team behind the scenes.