Murray Mandel is on a three-year busking tour to raise funds and awareness for the charity Lifeline. (ABC South East SA: Lucy Robinson)
Murray Mandel is profoundly deaf, but that has never kept him away from music.
Classical guitar is how the 64 year-old Sydney man has chosen to spread his message on a three-year busking tour that is taking him around Australia to raise funds for crisis support charity Lifeline.
Mr Mandel, who began the trip in March last year, plans to visit 150 destinations.
He has given 27 performances in South Australia since entering the state in April — and will finish the SA leg of his tour this weekend in Mount Gambier.
“My aim is to spread out the message to remind as many Australians as possible that Lifeline is always there,” Mr Mandel said.
“It is a privilege for me.”
Hearing loss won’t stop musical talent
A former microbiologist and Tai Chi instructor, Mr Mandel began learning guitar in 2009 at a friend’s light-hearted suggestion.
“He was joking with me about playing the guitar in his award-winning restaurant,” Mr Mandel said.
“Because of my profound hearing loss — almost 100 per cent loss of hearing — it required a lot of determination, persistence and patience.
“I [had to] become more and more alert to listening to the music itself. It’s an enormous amount of inner energy.”
Twelve months later, he made his professional debut in that very restaurant.
While Mr Mandel admitted it could take more concentration for him to learn an instrument, his hearing loss had not stopped him from playing and enjoying music.
“I have always loved music, all my life,” he said.
“At one stage I did play the piano for a couple of years. Another time I played congo drums.”
‘Stay strong and speak out’
Most of Mr Mandel’s performances on the trip had been outside supermarkets, where he said members of the public were often keen to stop for a chat.
“I have met so many inspiring Australians,” he said.
“I’ve had numerous passers-by coming over to me and expressing that they’re emotional.
“For example [some of them] had lost family members, so it gave me an opportunity to spend considerable time with them consoling them.
“Just about every one of them expressed their thanks to me for being there.”
Murray Mandel’s guitar has been his most constant companion for nearly 18 months. (ABC South East SA: Lucy Robinson)
As well as collecting donations — which he donates entirely to Lifeline — Mr Mandel is spreading awareness about the 24-hour telephone crisis support service offered by the charity.
“I would like to say, my fellow Australians, if you do have a very deep personal problem, please stay strong and speak out,” he said.
“I hope the message is spreading out into country areas for farmers. In regional areas, they are very, very important people.”
Next stop Victoria
Mr Mandel has already ticked destinations in New South Wales, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia off his list.
The next stop on his journey is Portland, Victoria.
He aims to finish in Canberra, where he started, on March 9, 2020.
As for what will come after the tour, Mr Mandel said he was staying open to all possibilities.
“I’m not looking too far ahead. For the time being my focus is raising public awareness and reaching out,” he said.
“I just want to carry on my life helping people.
“For the rest of my tour I look forward to meeting as many people as possible.”
If you or anyone you know needs help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.