Patient recalls road to recovery

18:09, Nov 25 2012

Geoff Cameron will never forget watching his two adult children falling from a rope swing in the Marlborough Sounds on a sunny summer Sunday in 2007.

"It's one of those things where your brain has a ‘s... happens' folder, and you want to delete some of what you see, but you can't," he says.

"Before my eyes, both my kids fell the height of a lamppost."

He also remembers "the huge relief" of hearing the Nelson Marlborough rescue helicopter arrive.

"They were just pure professional, absolutely magnificent."

On Tuesday night, one of those children, 31-year-old writer and traveller Hap Cameron, held an author's talk and fundraiser for the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust at the trust hangar in Nelson. The helicopter that airlifted him and his sister Jarnia to Nelson Hospital was on view, while Cameron discussed his travels and his book, Hap Working the World, to about 120 people.


"It's amazing to be here tonight and see that same chopper," Cameron said.

When he was 21, he set the goal to live and work on every continent in the world, and he achieved it last year.

It was while he was recovering from his fall that he had the idea to write the book. In Nelson as part of a nationwide book tour, he said he was happy that he could support the organisation that had rescued him and his sister.

Cameron landed on his neck, breaking a vertebra, and spent three months recovering. His sister suffered internal injuries. "It was an awesome opportunity to be able to give back to them after they did such an amazing job for me," he said.

He is aiming for a career as a motivational speaker for young people.

After Cameron's book talk, helicopter chief crewman Paul "Ernie" Bryant and pilot Jared Colbourne discussed their work with the rescue helicopter, answering audience questions.

The evening was held in conjunction with Nelson bookstore Page and Blackmore, which donated 10 per cent of the takings from all books sold during the night to the trust.

Trust marketing and communications manager Paula Muddle said there couldn't have been a better crowd.

"It just brought me back to my travels and I think it's absolutely fantastic that he has written a book," she said.

The evening raised about $1500.

Mrs Muddle said the trust did about 400 missions a year, and the top of the south region was one of the busiest in the country per head of population, particularly in summer.

The trust needs about $1.2m a year to pay for its fulltime service, with a third of the total coming from the community. It is trying to raise $15,000 towards a defibrillator.

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust is running a series of Trade Me auctions to raise money. Visit and search for "helirescue". To find out more about Hap Cameron, visit

The Marlborough Express