The Gutsy Group, Inc. started life as Medica Viva in late 1999 and was thebrain-child of Dr Ross Elliott, a Senior Gastroenterologist. He was passionate about the need for research into Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and was concerned about the lack of available funding in this area.
The inaugural Chairman was Mr John Gross, and other founding members of the Committee of Management included Dr Kerry Breen, Ms Lorraine Elliott AM, Mr Richard McCubbin and Dr Ross Elliott. In 2004 Mr Anthony Hyde, CEO of travel company Abercrombie and Kent, joined the Committee and instigated the name change to The Gutsy Group to drive a more visible profile for the organisation.
Initial fundraising for The Gutsy Group was supported by friends of Mr John Gross, and in 1999 and 2000, two fundraising lunches were held. Within six months over $200,000 was raised to establish a strong capital base to fund the first research project.
The personnel behind The Gutsy Group remained static until 2004 when Mrs Wendy Gleeson became the Executive Officer. Through Wendy’s efforts and her friendship with Mrs Harriet Moore and Mrs Prue Troedel, a wider donor base was established and fundraising on a more regular basis was introduced. Anthony Hyde called this trio the Gutsy Angels because of their hard work and great fundraising ideas. Through their networks they co-ordinated successful fundraising nights at private homes, and introduced the annual Walk the Point at Point Nepean National Park, Portsea, held over four consecutive years from 2005 to 2008. In 2007 Wendy stepped down as Executive Officer, and was replaced by Mrs Leslie Moat.
Mr Gross ended his term as Chairman in 2004, and was succeeded until 2005 by Mr Richard McCubbin who instigated an improved corporate structure. Business commitments forced Mr McCubbin to abdicate the Chairman’s role sooner than expected, and Dr Kerry Breen became the Chairman for the next two years. Other members of the Committee of Management at the time included Associate Professor Tony Catto-Smith and Mr Richard Green. Ms Penny Grau, Ms Clare Cummins and Dr Miles Sparrow subsequently joined in 2008. Mr Brent Lehmann assumed the role of Chairman in mid-2007 until 2009, before becoming one of The Gutsy Group’s inaugural Ambassadors. The current Chairman is Dr Ross Elliott.
The Fundraising Advisory Group was established in 2006. Since that time Ms Jane Panaccio has been the Group’s coordinator. Over the years she has been ably assisted by a small group of volunteers, which at various times has included Leslie Moat, Donna Shepherdson, Robert Hale, Luke Moulton and Simon Rich. Since 2006 regular fundraising events have been held. The Group’s brief has been to research appropriate events and prepare business cases for presentation to the Committee of Management prior to engaging venues and finalising event details.