Meet the chopper?s unsung heroes
By Emma Cornford
Each day at Grafton Shoppingworld volunteers sit behind a grey desk, half-hidden by a large red and yellow Westpac Rescue Helicopter sign.
The dedicated band of volunteers work on a roster system, put together by the treasurer of the Grafton Country Women's Association, Joan Howard.
In pairs, the volunteers from community groups including the CWA and Red Cross sit behind the desk for half-a-day to help raise money for the service.
Most of them have been doing this job for years, and each has a story of people who wordlessly make large donations or tell them about how the helicopter has saved someone they know.
"The other day I was told about someone who came and put down a $90 donation and about a month ago there was a fellow glass blowing and everyday he'd come and put a $20 note down and buy tickets," said CWA volunteer Claire Smith.
"Some people also come up and say their granddaughter would have been dead if it wasn't for the helicopter," said fellow volunteer Jean Sebbens.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter fundraising manager Howard Atkinson said the work and commitment of the volunteers was invaluable.
"We are just so indebted and grateful to them. If they weren't around ... then selling those tickets just wouldn't be possible."