Chopper soon rescue-ready
Challenge! Matamata has donated $1500 to the new Westpac Air Ambulance from funds raised at the Challenge Golf Series held at Walton Golf Club earlier this year.
In its eighth consecutive year, the ‘‘Challenge Challenge’’ golf series is held at the end of January and continues each Thursday evening for the following six weeks.
It is organised by the team at Challenge! Matamata.
The series uses the nine hole Ambrose format to ensure those people that don’t play regularly, or in fact at all, also get to have some fun and experience the excitement of winning a prize.
Each team must have four players and include either a lady or a non-golfer.
To help balance the teams and ensure everybody has a chance to win, handicap shots are added or taken from teams dependent upon the results from the previous week.
‘‘It’s a great cause that we are very proud to support,’’ Challenge! Matamata owner Dave Harris said.
Waikato’s latest air ambulance is in the final stages of becoming rescue-ready as the fundraising effort to pay for the multimillion dollar lifesaving machine ramps up.
Which makes this month’s nationwide Westpac Chopper Appeal more vital than ever for the Waikato-based Phillips Trust Westpac Rescue Helicopter, says marketing and fundraising manager Kylie Harcourt, who is calling for the community to give generously.
‘‘We are just shy of $2 million right now, so it would be great to get through that target this month,’’ she said.
The multi-role BK117 is undergoing a huge makeover, being converted from its previous life supporting Australian Defence Force personnel in the Solomon Islands to a fully operational rescue helicopter.
‘‘The capabilities that this BK117 adds to our rescue portfolio are immense,’’ chief pilot Grant Bremner said.
‘‘ All emergency services and those members of the public living in our region will greatly benefit from this investment.’’
The aircraft is equipped with a 272 kilogram rescue winch and is night vision goggle-capable.
Last year the current Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter completed 385 missions in the region, in some cases making the difference between life and death, Westpac’s director of corporate affairs Sue Foley said.
‘‘Thousands of Kiwis will need this service over the coming year – the reality is next time it could be any one of us, a member of our family or a friend,’’ she said.
‘‘We’re encouraging as many people as we can to support such a vital service as every donation makes a big difference.’’
Ms Foley said each mission could cost thousands of dollars and involved a mix of ambulance and search and rescue work.
‘‘This could be anything from boating or car accidents, near drownings, broken bones or heart attacks – even emergency births.’’
She likened the rescue helicopters to fully equipped intensive care units in the sky. Donations for the 2013 Westpac Chopper Appeal can be made at any Westpac branch or text CHOPPER to 3181 to donate $3.