Author pitches in to help chopper

NAOMI ARNOLD
Last updated 09:34 22/11/2012
Hap Cameron

GIVING SOMETHING BACK: Nelson-born writer Hap Cameron describes at a fundraising talk last night how he was rescued by this helicopter after a 2007 rope swing accident.

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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 Nelson-born writer and traveller Hap Cameron, held an author's talk and fundraiser for the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust at the trust's hangar. The helicopter which airlifted him and his sister, Jarnia, to Nelson Hospital was on view, while Cameron discussed his travels and his book, Hap Working the World, in front of 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. Currently on a nationwide book tour, he said he was happy that his Nelson leg supported the organisation that had rescued him and his sister. After the fall, 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 now aimed for a career as a motivational speaker for youth.

After Cameron's book talk, 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 carried out about 400 missions a year, and the region was one of the busiest in the country per head of population, particularly in summer.

The trust needed about $1.2m a year to pay for its 24/7 service, with a third of the total cost coming from the community. It is currently 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 trademe.co.nz and search for "helirescue". To find out more about Hap Cameron, visit hapcameron.com.

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