Brassicas raise chopper funds
Those lush fields of winter brassicas, the swedes, fodder beat and kale that south Otago grows so well, not only provide winter feed for stock but also funding for increasingly vital services such as the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter.
The time it takes to reach a sick or injured person can be a matter of life or death.
People in parts of the isolated Clutha district know that only too well, which is one of the reasons why service groups like the Clinton Lions Club hold winter brassica competitions every year.
TV fishing show celebrity Graeme Sinclair was the guest speaker at the recent auction, which brought the total amount raised from this year’s event to a record $85,000.
The club was grateful for the support of the 130 farmers who entered 200 brassica crops, winter brassica competition convener Warren Erickson said.
‘‘Living in the rural area, we depend more and more on the rescue helicopter as it saves lives from serious injury or a medical event, as it can access remote areas in short time.’’
Club member Gerard Vallely, who won the fodder beat section this year with a 38 tonne crop, is a staunch supporter of the chopper charity.
The Waipahi dairy farmer was badly hurt in a tractor accident about four years ago when he became crushed in the front loader.
‘‘I was doing an adjustment and leaning over, and I got squashed in the boom.’’
It was a moment panic’’ for wife Ann.
She managed to release the pressure off Gerard, who remained conscious and swearing throughout, giving instructions on what to do.
‘‘As soon as I heard the helicopter coming, I knew I was going to be all right.’’
For Ann it was a petrifying experience. She thought he was a goner and should have been dead.
‘‘Off we went to Dunedin Hospital, and I looked down at the helipad. It was so small, and I thought, we’re not going to be able to land.’’
But land they did, and Gerard did recover after a year from his crush injuries.
‘‘I hear a chopper now, and I think, someone is in trouble, someone is hurt, but they’re going to be rescued.’’
The rescue chopper conducts about 450 missions a year. of ‘‘total