Chairman of the Board of the Northern Cooperative Meat Company George Bennett cuts the 30th birthday celebration cake watched by Westpac Helicopter general manager Kris Beavis during an open day at the Lismore Helibase on Saturday.
Chairman of the Board of the Northern Cooperative Meat Company George Bennett cuts the 30th birthday celebration cake watched by Westpac Helicopter general manager Kris Beavis during an open day at the Lismore Helibase on Saturday.

Happy birthday helicopter

LONG-serving Helicopter Rescue volunteers said it was the biggest crowd they had ever seen at a Helicopter Open Day.

Hundreds of visitors poured through the hangar and onto the helipad at Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter's annual Open Day at the Lismore Base on Saturday.

Families made up the bulk of the crowd with kids and their parents keen to meet the pilots and crew and join the queue to sit in the helicopter.

Trying out the rescue winch, meeting Pilot Kevvy the Koala and getting their face painted were popular activities for the young ones.

But a new activity the crew prepared along with help from students from the North Coast Institute of Sport captured the attention of kids of all ages.

Starting with an electronic jump height measuring instrument, followed by a timed run and an obstacle course set up to re-create some of the tasks of rescue crews, a steady stream of participants lined up to take part.

Aircrew Chief Roger Fry said the tasks, which included pulling a stretcher in, throwing a lifeline to a raft and stepping through tyres and a ground ladder were set to give kids some idea of the skills and fitness levels needed to be a helicopter rescue member.

"We thought it would challenge kids and give them a more realistic idea of what our rescue crew team does," Mr. Fry said.

"Judging by the enthusiasm of the kids today I think the helirescue service will have plenty of crew persons coming on board for many years to come!"

At 1pm it was time to celebrate the rescue helicopter's 30th-year anniversary and a big birthday cake was wheeled out.

General manager Kris Beavis spoke of the community campaign 30 years ago which built support for a rescue helicopter in the area.

"The Service got off the ground due to the strength and the backing of the Northern Rivers community," Mr Beavis said.

"That's why, 30 years later, when people mention 'the helicopter' everyone knows they mean the rescue helicopter."

Chairman of the Northern Cooperative Meat Company, George Bennett had the privilege of cutting the cake.



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