25 May 2021

Well-dressed gentlemen on bikes take to Canberra's streets for mental health

| Lottie Twyford
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Simon Whittaker and John Aust standing with motorbikes outside QT Canberra hotel

Simon Whittaker (left) and John Aust (right), hosts of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride in Canberra. Photo: Charlotte Howells.

On Sunday, 23 May, a group of gentlemen and women put on their suits, knotted their ties and jumped on their motorbikes to ride around Canberra in support of a good cause.

It was for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR), an annual event that takes places around the world to raise funds for men’s health charity, Movember.

DGR was founded in Sydney in 2012 by Mark Hawwa, and this year the event celebrated its 10th anniversary.

DGR Canberra co-host John Aust says 2021 is a big milestone for the nation’s capital as total funds raised during the 10 years have now surpassed the quarter-of-a-million-dollars mark. Out of the 800 participating cities worldwide, Canberra also came in at an impressive 40th place in terms of funds raised.

Participants rode a picturesque route which began at the Glassworks at Kingston Foreshore, weaved around the lake and eventually ended up with a picture-perfect finish along Anzac Parade, before all involved headed to QT Canberra hotel for the after-party.

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Around 110 riders were involved in the event, and prizes will be given to the top fundraisers after 6 June when fundraising portals close.

John dedicates three months each year to organising the ride. He says when he heard about the cause – men’s mental health and prostate cancer research – he knew it was something important he wanted to be involved with.

“Throughout my life, there have been multiple occasions when I have come into close contact with these issues when they’ve affected my friends and family,” he says.

“I thought about it a fair bit as at that time I hadn’t heard about a lot of money being put towards causes such as men’s mental health. Then next thing I knew, I was the host of the 2019 event here in Canberra.”

John has been involved in the event for the past three years and says he spends most of his time researching the actual route of the ride, liaising with media, and getting out and about looking for local sponsors to support it.

“Luckily, Canberra has so many beautiful views and roads that I haven’t had any difficulty finding some variety,” he says.

Both QT Canberra and Shannon’s Insurance came onboard as major sponsors of the 2021 event.

The other aspect of the preparation is supporting individual participants with their fundraising goals.

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“I put out some feelers on Canberra Community Notice Board to see if there are any individuals who just want to give a little and have their name up in lights,” says John.

“It was, as usual, an awesome experience and I’m truly grateful to all the donors and sponsors.”

While John usually places in the top three or four fundraisers, he says the undisputed fundraising champion in Canberra is co-host Simon Whittaker, who has raised almost $60,000 for DGR since his first ride in 2015.

This makes him one of the event’s top fundraisers in the world. Globally, DGR has raised more than $US30 million [$38 million].

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