Dungog's cuppa donation to rescue helicopter

Barry Walton from the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service accepting the cheque from Cuppa and Chat organiser Pauline Aboody
Barry Walton from the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service accepting the cheque from Cuppa and Chat organiser Pauline Aboody

Dungog’s Friday Cuppa and Chat group handed over a cheque to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service recently.

Cuppa and Chat began at the Anglican Church hall 10 years ago and was initially targeting young mothers who were stuck at home with young children.

However Pauline Aboody from the group said it was more older people who started to come along.

“Most Fridays we have up to 20 people who are similarly aged and it’s a great way to get them out of the house and mixing with others,” she said.

“For the last couple of years the group has been fundraising and a local organisation is selected as the recipient.

“Last year it was palliative care and this year we decided on the rescue service as the helicopter is a regular visitor to the Dungog area.”

The group starts selling raffle tickets about four months before Christmas, with Pauline saying it is very popular.

“When people find out it is a local group raising money for a local organisation, they want to contribute.

“The group will also be participating in this year’s Dungog Shire Relay for Life.

“Last year we raised $1000 for the Cancer Council so we are hoping it will be the same again this year.”

Barry Walton, who was one of the original crew members of the helicopter service when it started in Newcastle in 1975, came to Dungog on Friday to accept the cheque for $477.

He spoke about his time with the organisation and how he set up the service in Tamworth 15 years ago.

“We do a lot of work in rural areas with a lot of callouts being to quad, horse, motorbike and motor vehicle accidents,” he said.

“We have to raise $8million annually from within the community to keep the helicopters in the air.

“There are two helicopters each in Newcastle and Tamworth and one in Lismore.

“A new budget has been allocated by the health minister which will mean four new aircraft worth $15million each but they will be much larger and faster than the current ones.”

Cuppa and Chat meets every Friday from 9.30 to 11.30am.