2019 Local Hero recipients

Date published

22 May 2019
Brisbane Local Hero winner

Brisbane: Val Marlow

This year the Flying Doctor’s Brisbane Auxiliary will have been supporting the service for 50 remarkable years. One woman who has been at the forefront of fundraising with the Auxiliary for over 30 of those years is Val Marlow. She works tirelessly at events all over Brisbane and the South East and has become a wonderful ambassador for the Flying Doctor, conducting tours of the Brisbane base as well as attending functions, clubs and meetings to promote the service and offer people the opportunity to give their support. Val has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the organisation, which is nearly as big as the collection of memorabilia that she has gathered over the years. Her home is a treasure trove of Flying Doctor T-Shirts, glassware, key rings and of course photographs. As if all her hard work and dedication wasn’t enough, Val has even convinced her two daughters to join the Auxiliary alongside her and keeping fundraising firmly in the family!

Bundaberg Local Hero winner

Bundaberg: Carolyn Saffron

For over a decade Carolyn Saffron has been the backbone of the local RFDS Auxiliary. Joining the service as Treasurer, she’s now the committee’s president and without fail she reliably sizzles sausages, shakes tins, mans market stalls, organises and inspires the group. She is a wonderful ambassador for the service, travelling far and wide, often on her own, to promote the organisation. Her motivation is the invaluable service that the Flying Doctor provide to rural and remote areas of the state and she gains real satisfaction from being able to give back to the Flying Doctor in support and fundraising donations. It’s safe to say that it’s a shared admiration!

Cairns Local Hero winner

Cairns: David Durst & Raphael Lansen

Two members of the Kowanyama airfield team provide the Royal Flying Doctor Service with an invaluable service in their remote patch of the state. Kowanyama Airfield Reporting Officer David Durst and Refueler Raphael Lansen are a dedicated
team who make themselves available to refuel the RFDS aircraft 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Not only do they keep the Doctor flying, but they often help the crew to load patients on board the aircraft too. Always assisting with the utmost care and respect. Most highly prized beyond all of their indispensable skills though, is their ability to lift the spirits of the aeromedical team on each and every visit with their warm smiles and friendly banter!

Charleville Local Hero winner

Charleville: Elizabeth Marchant & Georgie Walker

Between them Elizabeth Marchant and Georgie Walker have racked up over 110 years of hard work, fundraising and support for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Long time buddies, Elizabeth and Georgie tirelessly raise funds by hosting a bbq every month at the Royal Hotel Eromanga. Their tasty cook outs have garnered quite a following and allow them to make substantial regular donations to the RFDS. This isn’t all they do for the Service though, when they’re not in the kitchen, you’ll find them picking up the Flying Doctor and nurses from the airport when they land, serving them smoko and keeping morale high with their kind nature and friendly demeanor. Alongside this, Elizabeth also remarkably finds the time to manage the care of the local RFDS clinic building and is a member of most local community groups who work together to buy medical supplies providing a lifeline for the remote residents. And best of all, the ladies are as good friends to each other as they are to the RFDS!

Longreach Local Hero winner

Longreach: Sandy Gillies

Proud Gungarri woman and Winton local, Sandy Gillies works as the Executive Manager for the Western Queensland Primary Health Network, but her work for the local community reaches far beyond her assigned role. During the devastating Queensland floods earlier this year, Sandy lobbied tirelessly for services and ensured they were reaching the people who needed them most. Her local knowledge was instrumental in identifying those community members who were struggling or simply exhausted and in desperate need of help. Her invaluable assistance and strength during the floods is typical of Sandy’s selfless contributions to her local community. She has been dedicated to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health, social and emotional wellbeing and mental health both throughout the state and nationally for the past 25 years. She is a phenomenal advocate for the wellbeing of her local community and is an invaluable asset to this remote region of the state.

Mount Isa Local Hero winner

Mount Isa: Jim Lillecrapp, Simon Steele, Robert & Belinda Worlein

Simon, Jim, Robert and Belinda were the first responders to a boating accident out on Lake Julius on Christmas Eve last year. Their calm, caring and skillful assistance meant that the family involved in the accident were able to receive the best quality care as quickly as possible. The family have now made a full recovery and are incredibly grateful to Simon, Jim, Belinda and Robert. The day before Christmas last year, RFDS On the day of the accident, RFDS Mount Isa crews responded to a boating accident
at Lake Julius, around 100 kilometres north east of Mount Isa where a family, who were out on a fishing trip, had collided with a submerged log, causing severe harm to both them their boat. Whilst seriously injured, they manage to send an alarm using an EPERB device which started a mammoth emergency retrieval involving the Local Heroes and emergency services. The family who are now recovering at home in Mount Isa are incredibly grateful to Simon, Jim, Belinda and Robert for the instrumental role they layed in their rescue.

Rockhampton Local Hero winner

Rockhampton: Alison Hodda

Alison Hodda is one of the Service’s most hard working and dedicated fundraisers having supported the RFDS for almost 25 years. She continues to raise funds and awareness in equal amount as well as volunteering at events across Biloela & the Banana Shire. Although she lives over two hours away from Rockhampton Alison still manages to attend all the Auxiliary meetings, morning teas and Paradise Lagoon Camp Draft amongst many other fundraising functions. When she’s not tirelessly volunteering for the RFDS,
she’s helping her husband, who is also an Auxiliary member, on their family farm or making beautiful cross stitch pieces which she also sells to raise funds.

Roma Local Hero winner

Roma: The Golden Acres Gala Ball Committee

Andrea Crothers, Tessa Dimond, Annie Jones and Jess Weber joined forces to raise over $55,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The women organised, and hosted the Golden Acres Ball in St George for two consecutive years, donating the proceeds to local charities. The event, which took a phenomenal amount of hard work and preparations, was held on the local football oval and attracted over 500 people from all over rural Queensland and NSW. These enthusiastic women saw a need in the community and got together with their supporters making it a night to remember while raising funds for the RFDS and giving the local economy a much needed boost. The committee have now been separated by distance due to work, but they are hopeful that some other motivated and well-meaning people will take their lead and literally keep the ball rolling!

Townsville Local Hero winners

Townsville: Richmond Field Days and Turf Club Committee

The Richmond Field Days and Turf Club Committee have raised thousands of dollars for the RFDS as well as supporting health checks and raising awareness for the Service in their local community. The Turf Club say you’d be hard pressed to find someone in Richmond who hasn’t been helped by the Flying Doctor and thanks to the Club’s hard work, the community have certainly shown their gratitude. One couple who helped drive the Committee’s success are Club Secretary Patsy Fox and her husband David who were are dedicated fundraisers of the RFDS and their local community. They were instrumental in the disaster response when the Queensland floods devastated the region earlier this year. The pair set up a disaster management centre at Richmond Airport and manned it tirelessly providing shelter, safety and peace of mind to those affected in the region. David and Patsy not only demonstrated compassion and humility to their workers, neighbours, family and friends, they demonstrated courage, strength and wisdom which carried them and all those near them through the horrendous disaster.