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Big supporters . . . Midland freemason Paul Johnston (left) and rescue helicopter pilot Matt Boulcott are pleased to see small change raising big bucks for new flight instruments for rescue helicopters in Canterbury. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

by George Clark

Change collections from Farmers’ Sophia St car park will assist in funding flight instruments for Westpac Rescue Helicopters.

Instrument flying allows rescue crews to perform operations in compromised weather conditions.

Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust chief executive Christine Price said the trust had been overwhelmed with the level of support from the community.

“From people giving their spare change at the Sophia St car park to the amazing concert organised by the Midland Freemasons and the support from St Vianney’s and Philip Wareing; the rescue helicopter crew want to pass on their sincere thanks.”

The Midland Freemasons had made a significant contribution with over $30,000 pledged, “getting involved with the project from the outset and vowing to help us as much as possible”.

“It all adds up and makes a difference, enabling us to take a significant step forward and save more lives in the community.”

Rescue helicopter pilot Matt Boulcott said that over a 24-hour period, an average of three people in the Canterbury West Coast region would place their lives in the hands of rescue helicopter crews.

“We estimate an increase in 5% rescue capacity through this [the funding of flight instruments], which to us is essential. They’re another tool that will save lives.”

Mr Boulcott said proposed flight paths from Christchurch Hospital to Timaru had been drawn up and should be implemented by March.

“We still need to do a few surveys but the structure has been drawn up.

St Vianney’s Trust has also committed to considerable support along with a Timaru Lions club.

Philip Wareing Ltd, a family-owned transportation business based in Methven, has also contributed

Nearly $250,000 needs to be raised across the region.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter is on standby 24 hours a day, every day, and a second rescue helicopter on standby 12 hours a day (daytime operations).