Survivors raise money for rescue service

SASHA BORISSENKO
Last updated 13:00 03/12/2013

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Nine members of the same family who needed the Nelson Marlborough rescue helicopter have raised more than $5500 to thank the crew for saving their lives.

It was quite the family affair on Sunday as 20 members of an extended family ranging from ages 2 to 66 cycled over the Takaka Hill to Nelson in just under seven hours to fundraise for the service.

Event organiser Sue Netto said the family decided to complete the fundraiser as members of her family might have died if it had not been for the help of the helirescue team.

"We want to help them continue to keep up the good work," she said.

"We want to give something back to them because we really appreciate the work they did for us."

The first emergency occurred 13 years ago, when a mum and baby had to be flown from their home following complications after childbirth, she said.

Mrs Netto's brother was airlifted out from Golden Bay with a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurism last year.

"As his sister I went to his work, where he collapsed. The ambulance first met us but [the situation] soon turned to custard and the chopper met the ambulance in Riwaka."

The 65-year-old "should be dead, really", she said.

The most recent occurred last week when Mrs Netto's niece's son, 18-year-old Saxon Balck, was airlifted to Nelson Hospital with what was thought to be a brain bleed but turned out to be a thunderclap headache.

"It was quite dramatic, we were actually organising the bike ride at the time," she said.

Other family members required assistance after suffering a seizure, a heart attack and going into labour, she said.

In all cases they were fortunate enough to have survived.

It had been quite a dramatic 13 years, she said.

The cycle ride itself was lovely and the weather was fantastic, she said.

Apart, that is, from the Takaka Hill - that was a real gut buster, she said.

Everyone from the community was very supportive and the family was very thankful, she said.

"You would be surprised how many people have come into contact with the helicopter service.

"It was so successful we are thinking of making it a yearly event," she said.

The helicopter trust's marketing and communications manager Paula Muddle said to have this level of support from one family's fundraising initiative was fantastic.

Golden Bay always came through when supporting their services, she said.

"There was talk of making the bike ride an annual event and I have promised if they do, we will join them next year," she said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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