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2 June 2021
Alan Jessop is reluctantly hanging up his collection box for the Salvos.
Words Jessica Morris
Thirty-two years ago, Alan moved from Maitland (NSW) to Canberra. “I went to Canberra City Temple (Salvos) and the officer (pastor) asked what I could do to contribute to the corps (church),” recalls Alan. “[I said] I had a bit of experience with the street outreach, and I had plenty of time!”
After setting up his collection post at the Canberra Centre shopping mall one day a week, Alan quickly inherited two additional days. Over the years he became an icon in the city – the man dressed in his Salvation Army uniform with a friendly smile and a bucket for collecting donations.
And did he collect! Alan has raised more than $4 million for the Salvos, received the ACT Local Hero of the Year in 2011, and had his portrait painted in 2013 to commemorate Canberra’s centenary. But it’s the relationships he has forged that keynote the end of his era of collecting.
“I have wonderful memories of all the different people,” he said. “And it’s also sad – so many people who have died over the years [who I met].”
Alan Jessop, left, with Canberra City Salvos officer (pastor), Lieutenant Mitchell Stevens during the 2019 Red Shield Appeal.
A lot has changed in Canberra since Alan arrived there, and he has had a front row seat to it all – moving his stool, and later his walker, to accommodate developments in the mall and to interact with people. He has overcome two heart attacks and manages prostate cancer, yet three days every week he would wake at 4.30am, take up his post and collect for the people who needed it the most.
It’s fair to say he has given up his post unwillingly – Alan loves serving and working for God. But his legacy of generosity lives on.
“If you have that inclination [for collecting] don’t hesitate,” says Alan. “It’s quite enjoyable as long as you have the time and the patience!”
You’re a legend Alan. Thank you for your tireless service and heart of gold.
Alan Jessop began collecting for The Salvation Army at the Canberra Centre 32 years ago. Known as the ‘Four Million Dollar Man’ due to his fundraising efforts, this year he has retired from his post at age 90.