Old friends share cost of ambulance for the city

22:41, Jun 19 2014
Wellington Free Ambulance
PUBLIC SPIRIT: Skye Cowdell, 6, with her grandmother Jo Morgan, second left, and Ann Selkirk, tries out a stretcher, watched by Wellington Free Ambulance officer Corey Burrows. Morgan and Selkirk each donated $125,000 for the new ambulance. 

All it took was a quiet word from a former Wellington mayor and a few wines to raise the $250,000 needed for a new ambulance.

Jo Morgan and Ann Selkirk each pitched in half the cash to buy Wellington Free one of the six new ambulances it needs a year to respond to emergencies in the capital.

The new fully equipped vehicle imported from Germany was unveiled in Wellington on Wednesday, with both women's young grandchildren the first to try it out.

Ann Selkirk, who co-owns the Roxy Cinema with her Oscar-winning film editor husband Jamie Selkirk, said she was approached by Wellington Free Ambulance director and former mayor Kerry Prendergast, who suggested she pitch in.

"I thought, everyone needs one and they were having trouble getting one."

She recruited her long-term friend Morgan, married to economist Gareth Morgan, over a few glasses of wine, convincing her to pitch in another $125,000.

"Ann said, ‘I'm buying an ambulance and you should buy half.' I sort of got roped into it," Morgan said.

Wellington Free Ambulance chief executive Diana Crossan said the service needed to raise about $4 million a year to keep its services running. "Paying for an ambulance like this is a big chunk out of that."

While entire ambulances had been donated before, it was unusual for two people to pay for it together out of their own pockets, she said.

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