Tragic story behind Queensland's ‘mower man’
Claude Harvey, bestowed an Order of Australia Medal, has raised more than a million dollars to help at risk children. But to hear him tell it, he's just an average guy.
The 75-year-old grandfather of six has spent almost two decades walking his trusty mower across Australia to fundraise, first for the Gold Coast Project for Homeless Youth in 2000.
It was after child protection organisation Bravehearts visited his granddaughter's school in 2008 he decided to start pushing the mower for them.
Since then he hasn't stopped. But he said there was a deeply personal story behind his volunteering journey.
"I really started because two girls close to my heart were sexually abused, and the guy got away with it," he said.
"I thought to myself this isn't right, I've got to do something about it. Now for Bravehearts
"Just thinking about these two little girls keeps me going, and one of them came up to me before I went to South Australia and said 'do you do this because of me and my sister?', and she thanked me for it."
Bravehearts, based on the Gold Coast, is Australia's leading child protection organisation, founded more than 20 years ago to help those affected by child sexual assault.
Mr Harvey has walked an estimated 23,000km around Australia for the charity as the "mower man", pushing the customised cutter everywhere from Hobart to far north Queensland.
The longest walk took him all the way from his Varsity Lakes home to Cairnes, nearly 2000km north.
But it's one of his trips to Sydney which gave him his craziest memory.
"I took the lawnmower over the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2010 and they stopped me because they thought I was bringing a bomb onto the bridge," he said.
"Then in 2015 I pushed it over with the team from Sunrise behind me and they still stopped me because they thought I was pushing a bomb on the bridge.
"There's never a dull moment."
The Medal of the Order of Australia is awarded yearly to those who have undertaken "a service worthy of particular recognition".
Mr Harvey said the recognition left him in disbelief.
"I'm just an average person, not even an average person, I'm just surprised," he said.
"If I was a movie star I would have raised four times the amount, but because I'm an average guy that's what I've raised."
He starts his latest walk next Monday, trekking the almost 1000km from Toowoomba to Mackay to spread the word.
The self-professed "average guy" even had a word of advice for anyone else who might be looking to help him fundraise.
"Come with me with a whipper-snipper," he joked.
"Just do something, just get started, and take no notice of anybody."