Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Winter 2010 Contents Jack's Story
Jack Dunn, 16, of Padbury, had arranged to spend
his work experience on a farm, keen to learn new
skills in his quest to become a farmer. He and pal
Joshua, both students at Morawa District High
School, were sent to Eneabba, to help a farmer at
They were in the paddock when, without
warning, the crop burst into flames. Jack and
Josh ran to try to save the farmer s new ute,
which was full of fuel. Family friend Glenn Buck
takes up the tale.
"It was clear to the two boys that the ute
was going to blow up so they started to run. It
exploded and badly burnt both of them -- Josh had
30 percent burns across his body, but recovered so
well that he went on to become head boy of the
school. Jack wasn t so lucky. He had burns to 97
percent of his body -- the only part of him which
was unscathed were the soles of his feet."
Both boys were rushed to Royal Perth Hospital
where Dr Fiona Wood cared for them.
She used the same techniques on Jack that she d
used on the victims of the Bali bombings, says Glenn.
Jack remained in a coma for three weeks, his
anxious parents, Helen and Gary, never leaving his
bedside. And then, a little miracle occurred. "Jack
woke from the coma and was able to tell his mum
and dad that he loved them. He managed another
four weeks of life but had endured so much pain
from the skin grafts and burns. He died seven weeks
after the accident on 28 January, 2003," says Glenn.
Dad Gary went to the gardens of the nearby
cathedral that day, and looked at a card he had
been given earlier in the day. As he read the card,
which said, "Jack you are as tenacious as a willy-
wagtail," Gary looked down and saw that he was
surrounded by a little tribe of wagtails. He said
to himself at that point, "Whoever you are, thank
you for my boy".
It was then that Gary made a promise to
himself that he would help fund research into
burns, returning to the hospital to find another
wagtail perched cheekily on the handlebars of his
motorbike. The wagtail became the symbol of the
Jack Dunn Foundation.
Glenn, whose own son was best friends with
Jack, helped Gary establish the foundation,
working in his capacity as deputy principal of
Marmion Primary School and adopting the
charity as the school s special cause.
"We run the Wagtail Leadership Scheme here
at the school, with the kids writing letters to
figures of authority asking for donations, holding
meetings and practising for real-life situations for
when they re older," Glenn says.
"It was one of the children who suggested we
needed to get some big names behind the charity,
to help raise awareness. So now we ve got Justin
Langer as a patron, as well as Dr Wood, Dale
Edgar, the hospital s head of physio, and Peter
Hughes, the face of the Bali bombings."
He says setting up the foundation gave Gary
a purpose in life, but there were only so many
willy-wagtail badges the foundation could sell.
"We decided to set up an annual Jack the Wagtail
physical challenge for the kids."
The challenge gets kids of all ages participating
in a swimming, paddling and running race at
"In the first year the City of Stirling threw
their support behind us, as did Woolies. We had
124 starters, and all of their sponsorship was paid
directly to Dr Wood and her team for research. We
raised $20,000 in our first year alone," Glenn says.
This year, they hope to raise even more at the
event on November 13, to help those afflicted with
terrible burns enjoy a better outcome.
"What happened to Jack could have happened
to anybody," says Glenn. "He was a delightful kid,
cheeky, full of the joys of life. He had this mass of
curls and loads of friends.
"Dr Wood has learned so much from treating
Jack. At a talk she gave, a willy-wagtail landed and
started making so much noise, she had to stop. We
Jack was certainly making himself heard."
ALL MEMBERS OF a club you would fervently hope your own child never joins -- they are the
inspiration behind charities set up in their names following tragedies that robbed five families of
their beloved children. These are their stories, telling how in the briefest of moments the normality
of family life can be ripped apart. But that's not the end of these stories -- because out of extreme
circumstances, lives have been saved and the memories of those lost children live on.
Samuel. Theda. Amanda. Scott. Jack.
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