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May 02, 2024

Driving Change: The Legacy of Allan and Rhonda McCormac

This story highlights the journey of two dedicated individuals Allan and Rhonda, who are deeply invested in road safety. Through their initiative, Driver Revivor, they have established a comprehensive nationwide program aimed at promoting safe driving practices and reducing road fatalities. With a network spanning over 160 sites across Australia, their program has provided over 28 million snacks to drivers and passengers since its inception, making a significant impact on road safety awareness nationwide.

Allan McCormac was born on October 1st, 1941, in Ashfield. His childhood was defined by the constant relocations that come with being part of an army family. His father, a veteran of World War II, served his country dutifully, which meant the family frequently moved around Australia.

At the age of 13, they left Sydney behind for Adelaide, where they settled for nearly three years.  However, the family’s journey didn’t end there. In 1957, his father’s military duties took them to Malaya, where Allan attended a prestigious British Army school. Despite the upheaval, Allan thrived, becoming head prefect and school captain, showcasing his natural leadership abilities.

Upon his return to Australia in 1960, Allan decided to pursue a career outside of the military. Despite his upbringing in army schools and cadet programs, he chose to enter the banking industry.

It was during his time in banking that Allan’s life took a significant turn. He met Rhonda, the woman who would become his partner in life.

Rhonda, a Sydney native, was born in 1945 in the tranquil neighbourhood of Five Dock, just after the war ended. After completing her education, she found employment at a bustling bank in Sydney, where she met Allan, the love of her life.

Allan and Rhonda were married soon after, embarking on a journey of love and partnership that would span over five decades.

 

 

As they settled into married life, Rhonda made the decision to resign from her job to focus on raising their two children.

After some time, Allan also left the banking industry and ventured into the world of corporate PR agencies, gaining valuable experience along the way. His journey eventually led him to establish his own advertising and marketing consulting firm. Teaming up with his business partner, Gordon McNamara, Allan embarked on diverse ventures, among which was the famous Driver Reviver program.

The Driver Revivor program began with a fortuitous connection – Allan was lecturing in marketing, at TAFE School of Business Administration one day when one of Allan’s students employed at Nestle, approached him with a proposal. Nestle sought a community service program to sponsor, thus igniting the spark for Driver Reviver. Together with Gordon, Allan spearheaded the initiative, laying the groundwork for what would become a nationwide phenomenon.

With Nestle’s sponsorship backing the initiative, they launched a groundbreaking KitKat & Nescafe campaign that captured the essence of road safety and community engagement.

The campaign’s premise was simple yet profound: encouraging weary travellers to take breaks at designated Driver Reviver stops for refreshments, with KitKat bars and tea/coffee as the centrepiece offering.

The iconic “Have a break, have a KitKat” slogan worked well with Driver Reviver sites nationwide, resonating with drivers of all backgrounds. It served as a gentle reminder to prioritise rest and refreshment during long journeys, embodying the core values of community and safety that Driver Reviver stood for.

However, shortly thereafter, Allan’s business partner, Gordon, decided to pursue other endeavours, leaving and Allan took over responsibilities of the whole program.

Amidst these developments, another significant transition occurred – Allan’s wife, Rhonda, joined the journey. After a hiatus as a stay-at-home mum, Rhonda returned to the workforce, running a retail business with her partner before deciding to redirect her efforts towards Driver Reviver. Joining Allan in the endeavour, Rhonda took on key operational responsibilities, ensuring the program’s smooth operation and growth. Together, Allan and Rhonda tackled the program’s administrative tasks with unwavering dedication.

 

 

Driver Revivor benefited from a diverse array of sponsors over time, including Nestlé, Unilever with its celebrated brands like Bushells Tea, alongside other corporate supporters such as Bushells Coffee and Arnott’s Biscuits. Toll also contributed as a sponsor. Their partnership with Toll prompted the official registration of the company as a not-for-profit entity and the establishment of a dedicated bank account.
While they were fortunate to have the backing of various sponsors, there were occasions when funding wasn’t available, compelling them to finance the program independently. Nonetheless, with the invaluable support of these sponsors, Driver Reviver flourished, expanding its reach across the nation.
As Driver Reviver continued to evolve, Allan, Rhonda, and Rhonda’s late brother-in-law, John Cooper who later joined Driver Revivor as a volunteer and became an integral part of the team, confronted challenges head-on. They worked closely with state government agencies and sponsors to push forward road safety initiatives.
Recognised by the federal government for their community impact, Allan and Rhonda received funding to digitise the program, enhance online presence, and launch social media campaigns. With retirement approaching, they sought a successor, gradually handing over responsibilities and ensuring a smooth transition to new leadership. Allan and Rhonda McCormac officially retired in 2022 and the registered charity Driver Reviver Australia Ltd is now operated by an independent board of directors and one full time staff member under the auspices of the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES).
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The program now includes more than 180 sites and more than 5000 volunteers. More than 25 million free teas and coffees and 28 million snacks have been served to drivers and their passengers since 1990. Allan and Rhonda’s dedication to the cause earned them accolades and recognition. Because of his efforts, Allan received many awards such as The Centenary Medal, The Order of Australia Medal, and The Melvin Jones Fellow award.
Retirement brought new opportunities for Allan and Rhonda, who settled into a peaceful life at RSL ANZAC Village in Narrabeen. Surrounded by the beauty of their surroundings, Allan rediscovered his love for painting, while Rhonda immersed herself in community engagement.
Their story is one of love, resilience, and unwavering dedication. As they look towards the future, Allan and Rhonda know that their journey is far from over. Though their days of active involvement in Driver Reviver may be behind them, their legacy will endure for generations to come, a testament to the power of love and the human spirit.
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