CHOPPER DAY: Westpac Rescue Helicopter volunteer Brenda Commerford leads the way with other volunteers and helpers at Toast Espresso’s Rescue Day fundraiser. Photo: Adam Hourigan
CHOPPER DAY: Westpac Rescue Helicopter volunteer Brenda Commerford leads the way with other volunteers and helpers at Toast Espresso’s Rescue Day fundraiser. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Westpac Chopper crew snagging deserved donations

THE uniforms of Toast Espresso staff were a vibrant red and yellow as they played host to Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter volunteers for the 14th annual Rescue Day.

Yesterday's event, held every 12 months during Westpac's awareness week, was about keeping the rescue helicopter in the air by raising funds for the life saving service.

Selling propeller hats and bacon rolls, the Westpac volunteers were all smiles as they attracted hungry customers and curious onlookers.

Warren Tozer, director for the Grafton group and 35 year volunteer, has been fundraising for the helicopter since 1979, when it first got its wings.

"I first moved here as a manager for the local brewery and it was around then that the helicopter started up," he said, "And they approached me to help out with the fundraising.

"I started off shaking tins for the helicopter, then I helped out organising events, and then when Mayor Alan Dahl passed they asked me to join the directors in his place.

"But we're still all volunteers at heart, so one day I could be sitting on the board with the other directors and the next day cooking on a barbie and asking for donations."

Toast Espresso owner Judy Hackett was excited with the community response.

"Sometimes these events are hard to run, the community can be hard to organise, but everyone around here has a story about the Helicopter and they're more than willing to help out," Mrs Hackett said.

"Last year we rose over $13,000 for the Helicopter so hopefully this time they'll get even more."

Mr Tozer was happy to see the day received so well.

"To keep the helicopter flying we need to raise $2.5 million from local activities like this," Mr Tozer said. "So while these events mightn't look like much to a passer-by they're very important for us.

"We hold as many functions as possible to raise the money, but in doing so we hope we give the community something in return, like a nice bacon and egg roll."



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