Big Hats High Tea

Huge fun, serious purpose

The nearly 120 people who came to Rotary Hutt Valley’s ‘Big Hats High Tea’ event last Sunday were big on creativity – with some stunning DIY headwear on display.  They were also big on generosity.

Rotary Hutt Valley was pretty chuffed with last year's inaugural Big Hats High Tea, which raised $12,000 for Ukraine charities.  With last years total in mind, event organiser-in-chief Judy Bain set a more ambitious target of $15,000 for BHHT II.

Buoyed by a glass of sparkling wine, tiered plates of tasty treats and good company, attendees dug deep – snapping up raffle tickets and bidding on donated auction items.  The result – the fundraising passed $19,000.

No doubt the great cause had a lot to do with people’s kindness.  There wouldn’t be many people in the wider region who don’t know something about the life-saving rescue and transport missions of the Life Flight Trust.  As Trust CEO Mark Johnston told the High Tea crowd on Sunday while it’s the rescue helicopter that tends to grab attention, the real “work horses” of the service are the fixed wing air ambulances.

These specialist aircraft cost $11 million new but a year ago the Life Flight Trust purchased three planes for $2.25m each from Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service, which was upgrading to different aircraft.

As if that wasn’t a big enough expense for Life Flight Trust, which has to raise $7m each year in donations and sponsorship to match a similar amount from the government, the three plans need to be fitted out with specialist equipment.  The cost - $150,000 per air ambulance.

That’s what the majority of the Big Hats High Tea money will go towards.

Other benefactors of the money raised will be programs that target young people - the 'Books in Homes' program that provides books to local schools Rata Street and Epuni, and leadership programs for local secondary school students and your adults - Rotary's Innovative Young Minds program, Rotary's Youth Leadership Awards, and the Rotary Science and Technology Forum.

Mark explained that around 20-25% of the air ambulance flights carry premature and very young babies who need specialist care in other centres.  Each plane can carry two 140kg incubators and special – but expensive – loading equipment has been devised that can move these heavy baby capsules at the press of a button.

Life Flight Trust carries on average 4-5 patients or accident victims every day, with each mission costing $3000-$4000.

Mark thanked Rotary Hutt Valley – and the wider Rotary network – for their record of support for such vital services.


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