Ann and John McLean enjoy a quiet moment after they learned their campaign to get an ambulance station to Iluka had succeeded.
Ann and John McLean enjoy a quiet moment after they learned their campaign to get an ambulance station to Iluka had succeeded. Adam Hourigan

People power pays off for Iluka ambulance

THEY came from all directions of the town to the Iluka Bowling Club. By foot, car, even motorised scooter.

They were young, old, neighbours, friends, all waiting on one word.

Yes, or no.

The deputy premier John Barilaro arrived right on time, back before Christmas as he had previously promised the crowd.

There were a few words of introductions, and then the microphone was passed to Mr Barilaro, and it went quiet.

"So I've got bad news, and good news," he said to an audience mostly wearing the white and red Iluka Ambulance station shirts now in silence.

"And I thought 'Oh my god'," Iluka Ambulance Action group organiser Ann McLean said. "My legs started to shake and I started to tear up."

She needed not worry. The deputy premier delivered the punchline. "There's another place that's not getting an ambulance station, but you are," he said. Santa cap now on his head to emphasise the point.

The crowd erupted in cheers and jubilation. There were hugs and claps and smiles all around.

"This isn't an election promise... the planning starts now," Mr Barilaro said.

The meeting ended soon after, and with many pats on the back, handshakes for everyone up the front, it was left to the original duo who started the fight to sum up how the community felt.

"We were 95 per cent confident. We had a feeling, we'd done the work, we got Chris on our side and getting John up," Anne said.

"It's overwhelming, it's been a highly charged day for me, it's been a highly charged week."

As soon as she found out the deputy premier was returning, she letterbox dropped the entire town, with a little help from her friends, and with her husband driving also went round to every house in Woombah.

"We got in, and I honestly believed all along that we were here for the long haul, and we told them we wouldn't give up," John said.

"People doubted us, they said it's a waste of bloody time; but what gave us the hope was the support we got with 250 people at that first meeting at the golf club."

John said there was one person in the community who remained anonymous that helped them through the hard times of the battle, and had always kept them going through their fight.

"They know who they are, and he was so supportive," he said.

"But we're very happy. It's the greatest Christmas present you could ever wish for.

"I don't care if I don't get any presents now, I've got this and I've got my wife. That's all I need."

The government will now begin the planning process for the site, including identifying where it will go, and getting DAs and approvals.



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