The end of an era has come for the Canberra City Salvation Army, which today (23 March) bid a fond farewell to its iconic collector Alan Jessup, who has retired at 90 years of age.
Mr Jessup first began taking collections for the Canberra City Corps of the Salvation Army outside what was then Monaro Mall 33 years ago, and he has been one of the most familiar sights for Canberra Centre shoppers.
Perched on his mobility walker, Mr Jessup has always been a man of few words, but there was always a grateful “thanks, mate” regardless of the size of the donation.
“I suppose you’ve got to be realistic when you’re nearly 91,” he told Canberra radio station Mix 106.3 FM. “It might be a good time to retire.”
However, Canberrans, have been more vocal with their appreciation for a man who literally became a part of the furniture at the Canberra Centre last year when the COVID-19 lockdown hit and a cardboard cutout of Mr Jessup was put in his place.
“Congratulations, Alan, time now for a well earned rest – a Canberra icon that will never be forgotten,” said another. “Saturday mornings in the Canberra Centre won’t be the same without Alan sitting there in his Salvos uniform and his donation box. Over $4 million raised is a fantastic job, enjoy your retirement, Alan.”
In 2011, Mr Jessup was named as the ACT Local Hero in the Australian of the Year Awards.
He had moved to Canberra from Sydney to be closer to his family, and in recent years had to reduce the number of days with his wooden collection box due to declining health.
He has survived two heart attacks and has managed prostate cancer for more than a decade.
Mr Jessup has collected an estimated $4 million during his time with the Salvos, which has been passed on to people in the area facing hardship, isolation and domestic violence.