“You’re a man who has never lost sight of where you’re going and most importantly, you’ve never lost sight of where you’ve been.” Paul Holmes, This is your life, October 2010
In 1998, the Mad Butcher Suburban Newspapers Community Trust was formed to help Aucklanders with health care challenges. The trust raises money through celebrity lunches, speaking engagements, personal appearances and entertainment events. Here are some of the highlights from many years of good deeds and fundraising: Helping kids with glue ear When the trust first started, there was a glue ear epidemic in South Auckland and a five-year waiting list for kids to get treatment. Peter and Barry Leitch (no relation) of Suburban Newspapers organised a free mass surgery which treated 120 children in one weekend. South Auckland Health doctors, nurses and anaesthetists donated their time and the trust put in $40,000 for the materials. By the end of the event, the waiting list was eliminated.
When New Zealand’s first national burns unit opened at Middlemore Hospital, the Mad Butcher Suburban Newspapers Community Trust outfitted one of the rooms. The trust also got behind prostate cancer, raising around $120,000 over two years to increase awareness and encourage men to get checked. And every November, the Butcher gets busy at the sausage sizzle for Family Fun Day at Ellerslie race course. He also runs the lolly scramble, even when the trust is told they can’t have lolly scrambles (he loves to be un-PC).
Peter is an ambassador for Allergy New Zealand, a charity he feels close to because his grandson suffers from severe food allergies.
“To say Peter is unique as a champion of a cause would be an understatement. He’s a most remarkable man. He doesn’t ring up and suggest things we could do to raise money. He’s more likely to ring and say, ‘I’m doing a lunch and I reckon it’ll raise $25,000’, and it does”, says Penny Jorgensen, chief executive of Allergy New Zealand.
In 2007, the Mad Butcher Suburban Newspapers Community Trust organised a Christmas lunch that raised $145,000 for four Auckland hospices. The event pushed the trust’s total fundraising beyond the $1million mark.
Peter was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 1991 for charitable work. Less than 10 years later, he was made a Knights Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to business and philanthropy. He continues to be chairman of the Mad Butcher Suburban Newspapers Community Trust.