Graphic: Local Hero
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) has announced the nine RFDS Local Hero Award winners for 2020.
The annual Local Hero Awards, proudly supported by Ergon Energy Retail, Seven News Queensland and Queensland Country Life, recognise Queenslanders who have donated their time and energy to keep the Flying Doctor in the air, or assisted us in an emergency.
Read about the Local Heroes below and vote for your favourite today!
BRISBANE – Jane Milward
Five years ago, Jane Milward began busking with her ukulele with the goal of raising funds for the RFDS.
Almost $12,000 later, Ms Milward and her group, the Flying Buskers, have now performed in various venues across the state.
The innovative group of fundraisers have combined their passion for performing with that for the Flying Doctor.
In addition to raising vital dollars for the Service, the group have become passionate ambassadors, helping to also raise the profile of the iconic aeromedical organisation.
BUNDABERG – Rotary Club of Bundaberg
The Rotary Club of Bundaberg have been an integral part of the local community for many years, supporting many organisations, including the RFDS, through their fundraising and volunteer efforts.
The club this year supported the opening of the new RFDS Bundaberg Base with a generous donation, as well as performing extensive work to establish gardens at the new base.
Matt Griffiths, who had previously been transported by the RFDS, rallied over 40 of his fellow Rotary members to assist with the manual labour required to landscape the new base.
Mr Griffiths further assisted the relocation by moving furniture and equipment from the old base to the new location. He also has a close working relationship with the RFDS Bundaberg Volunteer Auxiliary, providing them with access to Rotary events at which they can fundraise.
CAIRNS – James Telford
James Telford, a helicopter pilot, was working on Van Rook Station when alerted to a car accident elsewhere on the property, located on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria.
One of the first on scene, James realised that the sole passenger needed urgent medical attention.
Knowing that a neighbouring station contained an airstrip on which the RFDS could land, James loaded the semi-conscious victim into his helicopter and flew the female patient to Dorunda Station.
James, along with fellow staff from the Gulf Coast Agricultural Company, were able to further assist the patient until the RFDS crew could land and transport her back to Cairns. The patient fortunately made a full recovery – largely due to the actions of James on that day.
CHARLEVILLE – Sue McDonald
As a member of the Buckland Recreation Club, Sue McDonald is the driving force behind an annual RFDS Field Day at Buckland in Central Queensland.
People who attend Field Days live in rural and remote areas, relying on the RFDS for medical support and potentially evacuation. The event ensures attendees can learn vital first aid treatment in case of an emergency.
Ms McDonald is very proactive in promoting health in the community, often seeking opportunities to enhance her own health literacy in order to assist others.
The club also maintains the airstrip for the RFDS in readiness for emergency retrievals, as well as the transport of crew and clinicians for the Field Day events.
While the region has experienced severe drought conditions for several years and many are doing it tough, the Buckland Recreation Club continues to support and fundraise for the RFDS.
LONGREACH – Bede Little
Bede Little, the Senior Constable for Ilfracombe in Central Queensland, loves his work and has the outback in his blood.
Often the first on scene of an accident, he is used to helping others. On one such occasion he helped the pilot of a small plane which stalled mid-air. Fortunately for the person in the aircraft, Mr Little was able to assist until the RFDS arrived.
His work in the community extends much further than policing due to the remote nature of his beat and the struggles experienced across the region due to drought.
Last year, Mr Little, along with a few key community members, organised a family fun day as a way to unite the community, boost morale and open up a conversation around mental health. Representatives of the RFDS Outback Mental Health team were invited to speak with attendees.
In addition to hosting stalls showcasing local wares, activities and competitions, the event raised $4,000 for the RFDS.
MOUNT ISA – Queensland Country Women’s Association Gregory Branch
The hardworking ladies of the Gregory township Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) are fundamental to the operation of the fortnightly RFDS primary health care clinic.
The dedicated group of ladies ensure the clinic facility is cleaned, meals are prepared for the Flying Doctor team and the crew is transported from the airstrip to the clinic.
But it is the work they put in leading up to clinic days that truly emphasises their unwavering support for the RFDS, tirelessly fundraising to purchase medical equipment for the clinic and township.
They even coordinate with other clubs in the district to ensure a generator is ready to power the clinic as there is no mains power at Gregory.
ROCKHAMPTON – Rockhampton RFDS Volunteer Auxiliary
The Rockhampton RFDS Volunteer Auxiliary began donating to the Service in 1994, working tirelessly throughout this time to help raise vital funds.
In 2019 alone, the group raised $100,000, bringing their total funds raised for the RFDS to $1.3 million.
The auxiliary hosts morning tea events at Rockhampton Heritage Village every three months and also stages additional raffles at various shopping centres throughout the year.
A pop-up craft shop which the group hosted throughout the month of September raised a staggering $25,000.
ROMA – Trent and Elizabeth Challenger
Trent and Elizabeth Challenger are a husband-and-wife team who own and run the St George Bakery, raising vital funds for the RFDS through their business.
They are motivated by the fact the RFDS transferred Trent to Brisbane for surgery over a decade ago.
Mr Challenger now uses his vintage bread delivery vehicle to provide tourists with a trip around St George and donates the fare to the Flying Doctor.
The couple also support the Nindigully Pub’s fundraising initiatives for the RFDS, along with the annual Nindigully Pig Races which generate in excess of $25,000 for the Flying Doctor.
TOWNSVILLE – Greg Clark
Greg Clark from the Ravenswood gold mine is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of the entire Ravenswood community.
Mr Clark, along with his fellow Ravenswood Gold nurse, Vanessa De Landelles, are regularly called upon to go above their call of duty as the mine’s dedicated nurses, to deliver healthcare to the people of Ravenswood.
Whether it’s responding to a heart attack in the community, or administering treatment to a broken bone, the dedication and professionalism shown by Mr Clark is testament to his unwavering dedication to the people of Ravenswood.
His selfless demeanour is heightened by his work with the Flying Doctor in organising the monthly primary health care clinic, including transporting the RFDS crew from the airstrip and providing lunch for the clinic staff.
As part of the RFDS Local Hero Awards the Flying Doctor would also like to acknowledge those people who have received special awards this year.
Traeger Youth Award – Oscar Finger, Clermont
Motivated by a personal connection to the Flying Doctor, Oscar Finger fundraised over $12,000 for the Service late last year.
Oscar’s mum was transferred by the RFDS when she went into premature labour with Oscar in 2007.
In the lead-up to his 12th birthday last year, Oscar chose to forgo gifts, instead devising a plan to grow out a mullet which he planned to have cut off at his birthday barbecue.
His initial goal of raising $500 was quickly surpassed, aided by raffles, digital fundraising and the birthday bash. The end result was a grand total of $12,323.50 raised for the RFDS.
Hugh McKay Award – Gordon Dean, Bundaberg
Gordon Dean, treasurer of the RFDS Auxiliary in Bundaberg, is a tireless volunteer.
Mr Dean and his late wife were founding members of the Auxiliary, both devoting countless hours in support of the Flying Doctor.
Now 85, Mr Dean continues to dedicate his time to the RFDS, going above and beyond in a demonstration of his loyalty and dedication to the Service.
Hugh McKay Award – Jean & Mervyn Shaw, Ravenshoe
Jean and Mervyn Shaw are dedicated supporters of the RFDS. So much so, the couple were last year made life members of the RFDS Near and Far Auxiliary last year.
From attending almost every Auxiliary meeting, to heavily assisting in the coordination of RFDS Field Day events, and even making jams and craft works for sale, the Shaw’s go above and beyond in their support of the Service.
They are first to put their names down, or hands up, to work at stalls or sausage sizzles which raise funds for the RFDS.
Spirit of John Flynn Award – Dr Myint Soe, Collinsville
Dr Myint Soe is a dedicated healthcare worker, treating both hospital patients as well as community members who present to the GP clinic.
Based at Collinsville Hospital, Dr Soe works closely with the RFDS, aided by the town’s nurses. Often the first point of call for emergencies, he is responsible for saving many lives.
Dr Soe’s work is vital to the small mining town who are extremely appreciative of his tireless efforts.