The Rats of Tobruk celebrate 10 years of supporting the RCH

For these WWII veterans, being called a rat is a compliment!

Congratulations to The Rats of Tobruk Assocation for celebrating 10 years of supporting the Neuroscience Fellowship at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH). The Rats of Tobruk exemplify commitment, strength, and generosity, a legacy that will continue to impact the lives of many children and their families for years to come.

The Rats of Tobruk Association is named after the Australian soldiers who fought bravely in the Siege of Tobruk in Libya. Forced to endure eight long months in dug-outs, caves and crevasses like rats, they withstood constant enemy fire, searing heat and bitter dust storms. Affectionately naming themselves after their circumstance, the soldiers became a source of inspiration at the height of the conflict.

In the years after the war, the Rats of Tobruk Association has become a place for veterans to connect, share stories and continue their famous mateship. When it came time for the Victorian chapter to sell their Albert Park meeting hall, they donated the $1.5 million proceeds to the RCH.

Held in perpetuity, this generous donation established the annual Rats of Tobruk Neuroscience Fellowship. The Rats of Tobruk Fellow is an applied training position for up-and-coming neurologists. With a shortage of paediatric neurologists in Australia, this role provides a valuable education opportunity and offers an additional resource for the busy inpatient and outpatient neurology facilities at the RCH.

In 2019, ROTA President Bob Semple began an ambitious campaign to build on the original gift and ensure the future of the ROTA Neuroscience Fellowship with a goal of raising $500,000.

“We are two thirds of the way to achieving our target and we continue to work collaboratively with the RCH Foundation toward that goal. The Rats of Tobruk left a unique legacy and the return on their investment in children’s well-being through this special fellowship cannot be underestimated,” said Stuart Tolliday, Rats of Tobruk member.

L-R: Emma McDonald Laurs (2019 ROTA Neuroscience Fellow), Tom Pritchard (ROTA committee member), Bob Semple (ROTA President), Kate Irving (2020 ROTA Neuroscience Fellow)