Healthy turnout at Chateau Gallagher

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 10:09 20/03/2014

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The Moet was flowing for a good cause at the Chateau Gallagher last night.

And as the sun went down over the lake, the nibbles came out for the well-attended Waikato Medical Research Foundation fundraising launch.

The foundation has already spent 27 years supporting research to help patients in the Waikato and beyond, and it has a rigorous selection process.

"We've been looking at ways of trying to fund a bigger proportion of grant applications that we get each year because there are some really good projects out there that don't cost a lot of money that we just can't afford to fund," oncologist and grants committee secretary Dr Michael Jameson said.

The selection process was so rigorous that even members of the grants committee have had projects rejected.

But successful applications include the groundbreaking Sugar Babies Study - which has changed how newborn babies around the world are treated for low blood-glucose concentration.

And a $5000 grant to an emergency physician - used to show how intravenous feeding fluid could reduce the effects of a drug overdose - also changed international practice.

The opportunities provided by the grants were also keeping bright young medical professionals in the region, Dr Jameson said.

And foundation chairman Dr Noel Karalus said advances made by the trust were hard-won.

"Everything gained here is done by fighting . . . We're still at it," he said.

With support from Trust Waikato, the trust had been able to provide funding of around $130,000 a year to the advantage of all patients in the region, he said.

Although gains such as a wider range of specialist care had been made, there was still more to be done and the trust needed help for that.

He urged guests to follow the lead of many doctors, who were supporting the trust with money from their paypackets every fortnight. The trust aims to lift its research fund from just over $1.3 million to $5m and the fundraising launch was held as an introduction for influential Waikato people.

"Donations to the fund are truly a living legacy . . . They're a living gift and they're there forever," corporate fundraising team member Brian King said.

Research was funded through the money generated from the fund, not using money from the fund itself.

And careful management meant the fund had never lost a dollar in market fluctuations, he said. Hosts for the evening, Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher, said they were "delighted" to be involved, and fully supported the cause.

"As one gets older, one has repairs and maintenance of a medical type so we're all going to need the services in due course," Sir William said.

The couple also offered to host a series of fundraising dinners for the trust at their home.

To find out more or donate, visit wmrf.org.nz

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