Shane Warne often described his life as a soap opera.
Wickets, women, famous friends, lavish lifestyle – Warne played in the spotlight on and off the cricket field.
But his posthumous Queen’s Birthday Honour, appointed an Order (AO) of Australia, shines a light on a side of Warne kept largely in the shadows: his philanthropy.
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Warne’s AO cites his distinguished service to cricket as a player and commentator, recognising the immense sporting contribution of the Australian who died from a suspected heart attack at a Thailand resort on March 4, aged 52.
But Sunday’s honour was also bestowed on Warne for his service to the wider community through charity and philanthropy.
Some of Warne’s generosity was public, such as auctioning his baggy green Test cap in the aftermath of the Black Saturday bushfires in his home state of Victoria in 2009.
The cap was purchased by the Commonwealth Bank for $1,007,500 – a record price paid for an item of Australian sports memorabilia – with all proceeds dedicated to bushfire victims.
There was also the Shane Warne Foundation, which raised $7.8 million to support ill and underprivileged children in Australia for a dozen years before closing.
But other organisations quietly benefited from Warne’s philanthropy.
He was a benefactor for My Room Children’s Cancer Charity. And a long-time supporter of Challenge, which also helped kids with cancer.
Warne donated memorabilia and made voluntary appearances at fundraising events for a range of charities including Elton John AIDS Foundation, Australian Red Cross, Scope and the Small Steps Project.
And his reach extended beyond Australia, with support for the 2011 Christchurch earthquake recovery and contributions to the rebuilding of the town of Galle in Sri Lanka and its cricket stadium following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.
Warne also supported various UN development programs including the Lion’s Share wildlife fund. The UN announced the establishment of a conservation grant in his name after his death.