A father and daughter’s shared passion for Bon Jovi has resulted in an international tourism coup for the Illawarra.
The band’s official fan club has decided to bring up to 250 international fans to Wollongong in December during Bon Jovi’s Australian tour.
And it’s all thanks to Symbio Wildlife Park owner John Radnidge and his daughter, Michelle Aldred.
The Helensburgh zoo is already being featured on the band’s official global website and Symbio’s owners have secured four of the 52 front-row seats for the band’s Sydney concert.
Michelle started following Bon Jovi in 1990 and at the age of 12, took her dad along to an unforgettable concert at Eastern Creek where a hailstorm hit before the show and part of the stage collapsed, leaving them knee deep in water.
But that allowed them to move into the front row, so close to Jon Bon Jovi they were able to reach out and touch him, she recalled.
Since then, father and daughter have attended a concert on every Australian tour of the world famous band. Michelle once caught a rose Jon Bon Jovi threw off stage at Sydney Entertainment Centre but it has always been a dream to officially meet the singer.
John Radnidge and daughter Michelle Aldred. Picture: GREG ELLIS.Now, because of her tenacity and generous offer to host a fan club tour the day before the Sydney concert in December, that dream of a private meeting with the star will come true for her, her family and three close friends.
Runaway Tours organises fan club activities around Bon Jovi’s concerts and is promoting Symbio on the Bon Jovi website as offering “a private up close experience with Australian native animals”.
“When I found out about Runaway Tours I did my research. They offer trips called Jovications,” Michelle said.
“I sent off an invitation to the guys, whether it be the band, the road crew, or the fans on the tour to come to Symbio to experience the unique encounters we can offer,” she said.
“I never in my wildest dreams expected to hear back from them. But a week later they said Bon Jovi’s management had reviewed our offer and were absolutely keen to take us up on it.
“They asked what could they do to make it happen. I said all we wanted in return was the chance to meet Jon Bon Jovi. I told them it was a lifelong dream my dad and I had shared. We have this incredible special father and daughter bond and Bon Jovi is a part of that.”
Dad John is amazed by the international exposure his daughter has managed to achieve for the Helensburgh zoo and Wollongong.
“To pull this off is just an amazing coup,” he said.
“When it comes to Bon Jovi nothing will hold her back.”
Michelle is just as excited.
“This is a dream come true for both of us,” she said.
Rocker Bon Jovi.
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