Fields of charity gold

Russell Jenner with Mater nursing staff. Photo supplied.

By Fiona Gowers

A sunflower festival in the Scenic Rim that attracts more than 12,000 people to its golden fields has a goal to raise $100,000 for vital cancer research and care at Mater.

Kalbar Sunflower Festival organiser and farmer Jenny Jenner said April’s event, which will which feature more than a million sunflowers in full bloom, will recognise her husband Russell Jenner, who died in July after an 18-month battle with oesophageal cancer.

Mr Jenner was a patient at the Mater Cancer Care Centres in Springfield and South Brisbane.

He was moved by the kindness of the medical teams who supported him throughout his treatment.

“Russell was known as the ‘sunflower man’ and was pivotal in creating this wonderful sunflower festival,” Mrs Jenner said.

“We hope the continuation of the annual Sunflower Festival will be his legacy and our fundraising efforts will help support others going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment at Mater.

“Russell enjoyed seeing the happiness and joy that sunflowers brought to people.”

Mrs Jenner said the partnership with Mater Foundation would provide visitors an opportunity to help fundraise and honour those going through a cancer journey.  

The Jenners regularly gifted bucket-loads of sunflowers to the nurses and patients at Mater in a gesture of thanks for the medical care provided and to brighten the day of fellow patients also going through treatment.

Mater Foundation director of corporate and community engagement Rowan Foster said the partnership with Kalbar Sunflowers was an opportunity to help change the future of patients diagnosed with cancer.

“For every sunflower sold during the festival $1.50 will be donated to Mater and will go towards vital research in helping to find a cure for cancer,” Mr Foster said.

“Life is better with sunflowers and we feel privileged to be supported by an event that is so uplifting and brings so much joy to the community.

“The event, held in honour of a great Queensland farmer, will be bursting with pride and blooms.”

The festival will feature more than one million sunflowers and is a popular spot for photo opportunities and yoga sessions, with sound healing meditation classes being held for the first time next year.

Planning is underway for a new children’s fairy garden and a disability viewing area.

“Most importantly there will also be time to leisurely walk the fields and feel the impact and joy that so many sunflowers can bring,” Mrs Jenner said.

The next Kalbar Sunflower Festival will be held from 19 to 21 April 2024.

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