Little Rhys Ryan, with mum Leonie, is the face of a new campaign for the Westpac chopper.
Little Rhys Ryan, with mum Leonie, is the face of a new campaign for the Westpac chopper.

Rhys leads rescue chopper appeal

THIS week marks the start of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter's Christmas appeal and Kyogle three-year-old Rhys Ryan will take the starring role in the campaign.

Last school holidays Rhys was airlifted by the rescue helicopter when he suffered serious burns on a family camping trip at Palmers Island near Yamba.

Rhys' mother Lenore Ryan said she was extremely grateful that a service like this existed.

“Hopefully you won't need their support this Christmas, or ever, but rest assured if you do, they'll be there,” she said.

Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter general manager Kris Beavis said the Christmas period is the service's busiest.

“Every year over the Christmas period we are called to attend an increased number of motor vehicle accidents, camping accidents and beach rescues as people travel to enjoy their holiday season,” he said.

The current total cost to run the helicopter each year is $5.5 million, however this is rising as flying hours increase.

Last Christmas the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter received four call-outs in the Tweed area.

Being free of charge, the service relies heavily on fundraising events and community donations for funding.

Donations to the Christmas appeal can be made at any Westpac branch by calling (02) 6627 444 or visiting www.helirescue.com.au.



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