Overwhelming result after 250km ride for choppers

Luke Parker
Overwhelming result after 250km ride for choppers

Sixty cyclists have hit the road and raised a whopping $140K for the Lakes District Rescue Helicopters in Southland this month.

The Southland Chopper Ride, part of the nationwide Westpac Chopper Appeal during May, saw the group ride over 250kms from Queenstown to Invercargill on May 8.

Westpac Southland Business Banking Area Manager and ride organiser, Andrew Moreton, said this is the fifth year the Southland Chopper Ride has taken place with numbers now having to be capped each year due to its popularity.

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Southern Chopper Ride from Queenstown to Invercargill“There’s a lot of Southlanders that believe in getting behind this important cause,” he said. “This year we had local surgeons, dentists, accountants, lawyers, farmers, business owners, police, fire service, radio celebs, secondary school students and Invercargill's first female District Court judge Christina Cook involved. We even had World Masters Cycling Champion Erin Criglington jump on board.”

The group ranged in age from 16 to 74.

Starting from the Westpac Terrace Junction Branch in Queenstown at 6am, the riders stopped in at five Primary Schools on the way to talk about the importance of the local rescue choppers.

“We headed through Mossburn, Nightcaps, Otautau, Drummond, and Winton before finishing at Westpac Kelvin Street Branch in Invercargill at 4.45pm,” Andrew said. “We were averaging around 28km an hour.”
He said initially the goal was to raise around $40K but this was totally superseded.

Southern Ride for Chopper Appeal Appeal“We’re blown away by the local support and so grateful to everyone that gave and got behind this worthwhile cause.”

One anonymous giver donated $100K.

Andrew said the Lakes District Rescue Helicopters provide such a vital service and are paramount to any life or death situations locals could face over the coming year.

“These choppers are like fully equipped intensive care units in the sky providing a dedicated 24-hour, seven day a week service. From a defibrillator for a premature baby to full life support systems, they are equipped to deal with almost any situation.”

More than 5,900 rescue missions were undertaken by local rescue helicopters around New Zealand last year including 403 missions across the Southland Lakes District and Southland region.

The Westpac Chopper Appeal, running throughout the month of May, aims to raise funds and continued awareness for the 11 charitable rescue helicopter trusts operating around the country.

Money fundraised over the month will go back to the local trust in the area they are collected from.

Donations for the 2015 Westpac Chopper Appeal can be made:

• At any Westpac Branch
• On the web at www.chopperappeal.co.nz

Westpac is the major sponsor of the Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Canterbury Westpac rescue helicopters. The annual Westpac Chopper Appeal helps raise funds for all regional rescue helicopter services around New Zealand.

Check out the team arriving at the finish line in Invercargill:

SEE ALSO: Tractor trek for Choppers

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