Thanking the workers who keep the rescue chopper in the air

By DAVID BANCROFT

ULMARRA'S Lesley McFarlane is one of the Northern Region Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter Service's favourite people.

She is one of many.

A member of the South Grafton Country Women's Association (CWA), Mrs McFarlane is a regular raffle ticket seller and fund-raiser for the service and, according to service general manager Perry Wells, is a vital element in keeping it running.

Yesterday Mr Wells and other representatives of the service came to Grafton to say a special thank you to regular volunteers from the CWA and the Red Cross in the Clarence area.

Mrs McFarlane said it was nice to be recognised, but she just liked helping out.

"I think it is wonderful," she said.

"My husband and I went to Lismore last Friday to the launch of the second rescue helicopter.

"My eldest son works for Country Energy and they all support it.

"I think it is great."

Mrs McFarlane said because of the good reputation of the service, it was not difficult to raise funds.

"We sell tickets to people from all over the place. People just see the helicopter sign and come over and give us money.

"Most people know of someone who has used the chopper ... one of the ladies here (at the luncheon) said she always wanted to have a ride in it.

"She got sick last year and needed the chopper ... she doesn't remember the ride, but she is back here having lunch with us today.

"We live right on the highway and know how much it is needed.

"It is helping the community and us, and fundraising is one way we can help."

Mr Wells said the Clarence branches of the CWA had provided the longest continual support of the service of any group in the region.

"They are still one of the strongest support groups we have," he said.

"They are the backbone of fundraising for us.

"Some here today have been helping out for 20 years.

"This lunch is a small token of our appreciation."



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