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Penthouse auction to fund COVID-19 treatment research

In a remarkable act of generosity, an 82-year-old semi-retired builder will donate the entire proceeds from the auction of his luxury coastal penthouse to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital (RBWH) Foundation Coronavirus Action Fund.

Keith Drake, who operated Drake Homes and Pryde Timbers with the assistance of his family for many years, is doing all he can to assist the expansion of national trials to test the effectiveness of two drugs in the treatment of COVID-19 and support other COVID-19 medical research projects.

When he learned about the need for funding, he decided to donate proceeds from the auction of his two-storey luxury penthouse in the seaside town of Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, for which he paid $2.75 million in 2006.

After a flurry of hastily convened meetings with lawyers, the RBWH Foundation and selling agents James Henley and Mark Lawler from Richardson & Wrench Coolum, the campaign to get a top price for the two-level luxury penthouse now begins in earnest.

Mr Lawler, Principal at Richardson & Wrench Coolum, is taking no commission on the sale to ensure that every cent goes towards efforts to find a treatment for COVID-19.

RBWH Foundation CEO, Simone Garske, said Mr Drake and his family had been incredibly generous while the foundation was also grateful to Richardson & Wrench Coolum for donating their commission.

“The funds from the sale of the property, will allow research projects, such as clinical trials, to occur and be expanded when necessary, so we get answers faster,” Ms Garske said.

Mr Drake moved from the penthouse to an acreage property five years ago with his wife Glenda and 57-year-old son who is severely disabled with quadriplegia cerebral palsy, requiring round the clock care.

The penthouse was earning rental income but weighing that against the greater need to develop treatments for COVID-19, the choice for the father of four, grandfather of five and great grandfather of two, was simple.

“I have always done a certain amount of giving when I have seen people in need,” Mr Drake said.

“My own family are all well set-up, though not in an extravagant way and I felt the RBWH Foundation needed the funding in this instance.”

Mr Drake found out about the trials when Professor David Paterson, Consultant Infectious Diseases Physician at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital and Director at the University of Queensland
Centre for Clinical Research, was interviewed on the news.

“When I spoke to Professor Paterson and read up about the trial and the research the foundation is supporting, I thought they are going to need a bit of money to make this work.

“The penthouse brings in a bit of rent, but we don’t need to have it. I know what is more important. I have enough and the family has enough, so I said to Glenda, ‘let’s do it’ and she said yes.”

Mr Lawler said he was hoping to draw interest from around Australia, with buyers not just motivated by the chance to own a luxury penthouse in an idyllic seaside town but the opportunity to help the nation’s efforts to defeat COVID-19.

“I reckon that if Shane Warne’s baggy green can generate more than a million for bushfire relief there will be people willing to put their hand up to support efforts to find treatments for COVID-19,” Mr Lawler said.

“Time is not on our side and we will be going out with a short, sharp marketing campaign, with an Openn Negotiation auction that will allow bids to be made and viewed in real time ahead of the closing date of May 16.

“Our R&W staff are donating their time and we’ll be taking no commission, in the same inspiring spirit of giving that Keith has demonstrated.”

Several local tradespeople have also contributed adding further value to the penthouse before its auction.

R&W owner and managing director Andrew Cocks said the network’s offices in NSW and Queensland would lend support to the auction, promoting the sale to their respective databases.

“In these uncertain times we all need to pull together and concentrate on what really matters,” Mr Cocks said.

“Keith Drake is an inspiration to all of us and we want to support his generosity by doing everything we can to make this auction a success, generating the funds for the RBWH Foundation to support clinical trials and COVID-19 research projects.”

To participate in the sale, interested buyers will need to head to www.openn.com.au , search for the property address and join as a bidder.

Once documentation is completed and approved, the buyer is qualified and ready to bid. Anyone interested in watching the bidding unfold can joining as an observer.

The Penthouse
No expense has been spared to create the ultimate beachside penthouse at Melrose on Fifth. Occupying two complete floors, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home spans 670sqm of living, including a roof deck with a private heated swimming pool, covered and open entertaining areas, bathroom and sauna.

On the floor below, directly accessible by lift, the light-filled interiors include three distinct living areas with high ceilings, curved walls and bamboo flooring.

The kitchen includes top of the range Miele appliances and marble benchtops and island, while the master suite occupies its own private wing with an indulgent en suite, customised cabinetry and its
own balcony.

Another three bedrooms also enjoy their own balcony, with views taking in Mooloolaba Lighthouse, Maroochydore Beach, the Maroochy River mouth, Mount Coolum and the hinterland.

Other luxury extras include a walk-in pantry with its own air-conditioning, temperature-controlled wine cellar, media room, storeroom and secure parking for four cars.

The location is perfect – 300 metres to the beach, 10 minutes to the Sunshine Coast’s new international airport and 20 minutes to Noosa.

A habit of giving
Giving is something of a habit for Keith Drake, who came to Australia from New Zealand in the ’60s, hoping to access more advanced care for his severely disabled son, while leaving behind a thriving building business to start over again in Brisbane.

As it turned out, there were few resources back then to improve his son’s quality-of-life, so Glenda devoted her time to his care and Keith worked like a demon to pay for round the clock carers.

And he hasn’t stopped since, even now working on a new building consultancy service, www.drakehomeconsultants.com.au.

Drake Homes built mainly free-standing family homes steering clear of large-scale high-risk developments because Keith wasn’t prepared to take a business gamble that could endanger the money needed for his disabled son’s care long into the future.

That hasn’t curbed his desire to help wherever he sees a need. After a cruise around Papua New Guinea a few years ago, where he and Glenda visited the island of Kitava, he was not only struck by the friendliness of the people but also their lack of essentials.

“I asked them what they needed most and they were worried about the lack of schooling for their children,” Mr Drake recalls.

“They said they would like some pencils and magazines.”

His response then was not dissimilar to his decision to make what he hopes will add millions to the fight against COVID-19.

“Well I thought that’s not going to fix their problems. I went home and worked on a plan to do something that would make a difference and then hired a local tradesperson to go over there with me to help set it up.”

Mr Drake’s gift pack included solar panels for electricity, tools for mending buildings, fishing gear, a satellite dish for TV and ‘Teacher in a Box’—old computers hardwired with videos and educational material to allow learning without internet connectivity.

“They have three schools up and running now and I couldn’t be prouder to have helped them out,” Mr Drake said.

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