FALL GUYS: Community leaders face fears for vital service
IT'S a long way to the top, and even longer when they drop...
But these four men are prepared to go up this 10-storey building in Coolangatta then over the edge and abseil down it.
And in the process, they will raise at least $10,000 for the Westpac chopper.
They are Tweed region's community leaders - a pilot, a dentist, a police commander and a businessman - all willing to face their fear of heights in the name of helping fund a vital service.
On February 28, the group has taken up the challenge to take part in the Leaders Leap, a major fundraising event for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service.
Required to raise $2500, the leaders will then abseil more than 30m down Southern Cross University's Coolangatta campus building.
The event is also an opportunity to reflect on the vital work of the lifesaving chopper crew, who regularly winch people to safety from the bush, ocean and other hard-to-access locations.
The service's pilot of 10 years, Tom Hulse, could be called out twice a day during his 12-hour shift to areas from Coffs Harbour to Tweed Heads from his Lismore base.
"It sounds strange to say but even though I fly helicopters, I am not great with heights - but it's true," he said.
"But it's good to do something that scares you."
Dentist Ramesh Sivabalan moved to the area three years ago from Sydney and has immersed himself in the Salt Surf Life Saving Club.
For the self-described "glorified plumber" it was a "no-brainer " to get involved in helping the rescue chopper.
"Being part of the surf club you get to see what they do first-hand," he said.
"I have spoken to many people who needed them.
"(They) said if it wasn't for Westpac rescue they don't know if they would be here now."
It's a more personal mission for Tropical Fruit World general manager Aymon Gow, who needed the rescue service himself after a surfing accident. Mr Gow hit his head on a sandbar in February 2018 and was flown from Kingscliff to Brisbane after temporarily losing movement below the neck.
He said he had always assumed it was a solely government-funded service and was amazed at the amount of fundraising needed to support the vital service - general operating costs for the helicopter are about $4000 an hour.
"It was a big motivation to keep it going after having to use the service," Mr Gow said.
Tweed Byron Police District Commander David Roptell has been in the police force for more than 28 years, the past 12 months in Tweed.
"Seeing something like the Westpac rescue service it's amazing. Just getting my head around the amount of work and dedication that they do is remarkable," he said.
He said just like policing, the rescue team was in the business of saving lives.
"You join the NSW police force because you care about people and what comes of that is saving lives, the job that these men and women do, fluing a helicopter which really runs on charity and the community supporting it- they give back by saving lives,"Commander Roptell said.
"It's so important to have that service. We could all need this service one day."
For more information visit leadersleap.blackbaud-sites.com/tweed.