Last updated: 01:43pm, 24th Mar 2020
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The Northland Rescue Helicopter service is preparing to celebrate 30 years in the air as the 2018 fundraising appeal begins.
Until the end of November, the service will be involved in numerous activities throughout Kaipara, Whangarei, Mid and Far North to pay tribute to thousands of lives saved, and those lost, since the very first flight from Kaitaia Hospital on November 17, 1988.
(Pictured): Northland Rescue Helicopter pilot Steve Couchman has been with the service 14 years and in that time has flown well over 1,000 patients.
Last year $307k in public donations was raised and the aim is to raise a similar amount this year due to the increasing operational costs facing the air ambulance service.
Northland electricity lines companies Northpower and Top Energy will contribute $100k and $50k respectively to the cause, along with managing the appeal campaign. Northpower Chief Executive Andrew McLeod and Top Energy Chief Executive Russell Shaw believe an air ambulance service is crucial to the wellbeing of Northlanders.
Northland Rescue Helicopter Chairman, Paul Ahlers says that local business support is crucial year in, year out, as the service is only partially funded by Government.
“Northpower and Top Energy have been sponsoring us since day one and we could not have got this service off the ground without them. Their support has been critical to us – just as support from other businesses and members of the public has been over three decades,” says Mr Ahlers.
“We are also really appreciative of the on-going support we receive from the Northland Regional Council – that backing has been a substantial boost to helping us meet our annual shortfall of costs and key to us being able to afford to upgrade our helicopter fleet which will ensure we can continue to help keep our community safe.”
The Northland Rescue Helicopter Service has flown more than 20,000 missions since 1988 and has been instrumental in saving thousands of lives.