New chief takes over pilot’s seat

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

Greg Bar­row chal­lenge.

On July 1 he takes up the role of chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at the West­pac Res­cue He­li­copter Trust.

He is mov­ing into the top seat at a time when the air am­bu­lance ser­vice is get­ting 40 per cent more call­outs than three years ago and is con­tin­u­ally fight­ing a fund­ing bat­tle.

‘‘It’s im­por­tant to me that the ser­vice main­tains the high stan­dard it de­liv­ers to Auck­land,’’ Mr Bar­row says.

Prob­a­bly the big­gest pro­ject to hit his desk will be the pur­chase of a new he­li­copter by 2015.

It will come at a cost of $14 mil­lion to $15m.

isn’t shy of a

‘‘Ob­vi­ously it will be a chal­lenge to raise the money and then it will need to be set up and the staff trained to use it,’’ he says.

The ser­vices’ present two helicopters are 26 and 28 years old.

They are still fully func­tional but needs are chang­ing.

‘‘On board there are the pi­lots, a doc­tor, and in some cases a para­medic even be­fore there is a pa­tient.

‘‘The new he­li­copter will be able to take a big­ger pay­load,’’ he says.

The Epsom res­i­dent is a vet­eran of the avi­a­tion in­dus­try and is a pilot for Vir­gin Air­lines and a self-em­ployed avi­a­tion con­sul­tant.

‘‘I mar­ried a girl that grew up around where we live and I was brought up in Man­gere Bridge so we’ve moved about 7 miles in our life,’’ he says.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Bob Parkinson is re­tir­ing from his post af­ter five years.

‘‘I stepped in on a tem­po­rary three-month con­tract ini­tially, but fell in love with it and stayed for five years,’’ he says.

‘‘Fund­ing has been a daily, weekly, monthly chal­lenge. We rely on 50 per cent of fund­ing to come from the com­mu­nity.

Mr Parkinson will re­main a trustee of the trust.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Chang­ing hands: Greg Bar­row,

right, will lead the West­pac Res­cue He­li­copter Trust from

July when present chief ex­ec­u­tive Bob Parkinson re­tires.

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