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Michael Lowe - Holmesville

A Holmesville resident and former player for the West Wallsend Magpies is in the Philippines serving in the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) disaster relief operation following Typhoon Haiyan.

Michael Lowe left the comfort of his job as a cook at HMAS Watson on Sydney’s South Head, to join the heavy-lift ship, HMAS Tobruk, for the mercy mission on Leyte Island.

“When I heard Tobruk was sailing to the Philippines to help the victims of the deadly typhoon I immediately volunteered because I want to do whatever I can to help,” he said.

“My Mum is from the Philippines, so that’s another reason why I wanted to do something for the people who have suffered so much.”

Michael and the other cooks prepare up to 1500 meals per day for Tobruk’s crew and up to 100 Army engineers.

But when Michael is not cooking, he and other shipmates go ashore to help the Army engineers to clean up and repair schools and public places devastated by the deadly typhoon.

Michael is one of the many sailors who willingly give up their free time to help with the ADF’s clean up operation in Ormoc city, which has drawn praise from the local people.

“I often volunteer to go ashore with the work parties because I can help the victims who have lost so much and need our assistance to rebuild their lives,” he said.

Michael arrived on Leyte Island on board Tobruk on November 26, when he and 500 other ADF personnel commenced recovery support operations to repair the damage caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

“Tobruk is ideally suited to the recovery effort given her amphibious heavy lift capability, on board accommodation and ability to support helicopter and landing craft operations,” he said.

Capabilities in Tobruk also include hydrographic survey, clearance divers, medical professionals and linguists.