Rescue copter kept in air with new sponsors

22:46, Dec 20 2012

Taranaki is no longer gambling on the survival of its rescue helicopter after sponsors stumped up the cash to keep it in the air.

Yesterday the New Zealand Community Trust confirmed it was giving the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust a grant of $146,700 to help it stay afloat while a new business model is chosen and implemented.

In August the TRHT announced it needed $400,000 to continue saving lives beyond Christmas and that it had been refused grants to tide it over.

Two weeks ago New Plymouth businessman Bryce Barnett was appointed as chairman of the TRHT and David Wickham, the secretary of the Phillips Trust, was taken on as a trustee.

The new leadership confirmed the service would carry on and said the trust was looking at options for making it sustainable.

NZCT Taranaki regional advisory chairman Neil Wolfe said the trust was proud to support the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter.

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"We know the helicopter rescue service is very much appreciated and highly regarded by locals, which is why we are delighted to be able to provide financial backing."

The NZCT gets its money from gaming machines run in hotels, pubs and clubs around Taranaki and the country and the majority of grants support amateur sport.

TRHT chairman Bryce Barnett said the grant is a vote of confidence in the trust's new organisational structure and strategic plans.

"We feel that TRHT has turned a corner, moving past its previous financial difficulties, towards a bright and sustainable future."

The last few weeks had seen further support from the community and local businesses including Energyworks, Schlumberger Seaco and Sai Wholesale Liquor.

"I would like to thank them for their support along with recent support from the TSB Community Trust and the TET Trust.

"This really is a service run by locals for locals," Mr Barnett said.

"Without the community behind us, we'd struggle."

Taranaki Daily News