TIRELESS: John Lough.
TIRELESS: John Lough.

Dad put his grief to good use

OUT of the depths of heartache and indignation over the death of his four-year-old son, Noosaville man John Lough gave life to a $100 million world-class cancer research centre.

And for his tireless efforts and service to children through cancer support organisations, Mr Lough has been awarded the Order of Australia Medal in today's Australia Day honours list.

The 70-year-old solicitor, who still practices, was upset that at the time his son Robbie was diagnosed with leukemia the outlook was fairly bleak for parents.

Robbie died aged just four years.

"I was a bit worked up because nobody could tell me why he got it or why he didn't respond to treatment," Mr Lough said.

"In those days 20% of kids survived and 80% didn't.

"So I formed the organisation The Children's Leukaemia and Cancer Foundation and I managed to have it accepted by Apex Australia as a national service scheme."

Mr Lough ran that scheme and succeeded in raising $1.3 million - enough to build a research centre at Sydney's Prince of Wales Children's Hospital.

"That has progressed from strength to strength - more recently it's been housed in a new $100 million facility at the University of New South Wales," he said. "We started off with two research officers and now we've got 400 working there, I think.

"And now the ratio's turned around, 80% of the kids survive and 20% don't, so that was a great achievement. It's one of the world's renowned research centres, so it was a really good outcome."

Mr Lough moved to Noosa from Wollongong about 13 years ago and was involved with the Noosa Yacht and Rowing Club for eight years as a committee member, spending half that time as secretary.

"I certainly enjoyed sailing there, but my main interest was the kids' learn to sail program," he said.

"It's the largest sailing course in Australia - it's really good to see the kids involved. These days I like boating and a bit of golfing occasionally."