Lions’ ride backs rescue chopper

Woodville Lions’ annual Coast to Coast motorcycle ride has raised $16,777 for the Palmerston North rescue helicopter.

At a function at Woodville Racecourse on Monday night Woodville Lions president Steve Silcock handed over the cheque to rescue helicopter crewman Graeme Spiers and Philips Search and Rescue trustee Stewart Davies.

The amount raised was well in excess of last year’s donation of $15,000.

The Coast to Coast ride takes place early in December and sees around 350 motorcyclists travel from Himitangi Beach to Akitio Beach via Woodville.

In welcoming guests, Lions member Warren Jones said the Coast to Coast, which had been running for 27 years, had become an institution.

“Tonight is an opportunity for us to say thank you to all our sponsors. You have helped us to take a project started by Clive Boyden, joined by Ron Mabey, that has lasted 27 years and make it into something special.

“We would not be able to accomplish this without your support.”

He acknowledged the contribution of Phil Turnbull, of Courtesy Motorcycles, who had been a major sponsor.

“It is very special for our club to hold the same sponsor for 20 years.”

He thanked FarmSource for its sponsorship and Pahiatua New World owners Mark and Emma Fabian who had stepped up to help out on the day and had always shown goodwill and good service.

The work carried out by Mabey in organising the motorcycle raffle that has become a feature of the fundraising in recent few years was also acknowledged.

“Ron spends so much effort getting out and seeking sponsorship. He has done a stirling job over the years,” he said.

Jones also thanked Russell and Anne Hughes of Pahiatua Lions who undertake the massive task of organising marshalls to cover the 200km ride.

He also praised the work of the rescue helicopter crew.

“You are the guys who take what we provide and distil it into a product this region is so lucky to have. The service you provide is second to none.”

In accepting the donation Spiers thanked Woodville Lions for their contribution year after year.

“It’s a very significant donation and is biggest donation over the longest time that we receive. We really value that.”

He said the Palmerston North rescue helicopter was not fully funded so it was community fundraising such as the Coast to Coast that kept the service operational.

Two new pilots had been employed along with the rescue service’s own dedicated medics which made for better response times.

“That means community funding will help provide more medical equipment such as mechanical ventilators, fluid warmers to help victims of exposure and syringe drivers to enable the medics to administer medication in flight.”

He said the fundraising definitely contributed to patient care.

Davies said the fundraising was all about providing a better rescue helicopter service.

“The service has been operating since 1991 and you have all been part of the journey to provide a superior service.

“Tonight is about acknowledging Woodville Lions’ major effort. Community ownership is the real key.

“We thank you for your efforts and long may it continue.”

Following the formal part of the presentation the motorcycle raffle was drawn and was won by a delighted SarahJane Sowden, of Feilding, who was phoned by Mabey and given the good news. She will have the choice of either a Suzuki GSX150F street bike or a Quad Sport Z50 bike supplied by Suzuki New Zealand.

She bought the ticket after taking part in the Walk the New Highway fundraiser in January.

“They were selling tickets by the sausage sizzle. The lady selling the tickets was so nice and I had $10 in my hand.”

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Source: Hawke’s Bay Today