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Westpac NZ donates extra $1m to rescue helicopters

The TECT Rescue Helicopter.

Westpac NZ is donating an extra $1 million to support New Zealand’s rescue helicopters, which are facing a serious fundraising shortfall due to the impacts of COVID-19.

In addition to Westpac NZ’s usual annual fundraising campaign, the Bay of Plenty coastal region’s TECT Rescue Helicopter will receive just over $30,000.

Westpac NZ Chief Executive David McLean says the pandemic has highlighted the immense importance of New Zealand’s frontline health services and the need to support them.

“Even while we’re at home under Level-4 lockdown, our rescue choppers are out doing lifesaving work, whether it’s attending a farm accident or a childbirth emergency.

“They’re also performing urgent hospital transfers, and are ready to help as part of the country’s COVID-19 response.”

Davidn says the cancellation of fundraising events nationwide, plus financial uncertainty caused by COVID-19, have left the rescue helicopter trusts desperately short of critical funds.

Westpac has been sponsoring rescue helicopters in New Zealand for nearly 40 years and the Westpac Annual Chopper Appeal is a source of funding that is relied upon to provide this lifesaving service.

TECT Rescue Helicopter Group Manager Vanessa Richmond says this donation will help give certainty to its fundraising efforts during this difficult time.

“The contribution of Westpac’s Annual Chopper Appeal is critical in supporting the rescue helicopter. We are overwhelmed by Westpac’s generosity in ensuring that rescue helicopters are not put at risk by limitations to fundraising events and street appeals during the COVID-19 crisis.

“Currently our rescue helicopters are facing increased requirements around personal protective equipment and decontamination to keep the frontline workers safe.

“We also have to prepare to carry out more hospital transfers if the COVID-19 situation worsens, so it’s an extremely busy time training and preparing for such a situation.

“We know the community is reeling from the effects of COVID-19, which is why we’re especially grateful to Westpac and anyone able to make even a small donation to keep this vital service in the air.”

With Westpac NZ’s annual Chopper Appeal month just around the corner in May, Mr McLean urged Kiwis who have given in the past to continue to support their local rescue helicopter trust if they’re in a position to do so.

Those wishing to make a donation to their local rescue helicopter can do so at www.chopperappeal.co.nz.

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