“We’re very fortunate that we have that backing of the community.”
Communities from across the Hunter Valley to the Central West, Coffs Harbour and the Northern Rivers always back the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service (WRHS) along with many small, medium and large businesses which are the focus of their latest campaign to say thank you and encourage more businesses to get behind the incredible cause.
An idea born during COVID-19 called the “Helicopter Collective” is the WRHS way of saying thank you to those businesses but continuing their support at the same time.
The Helicopter Collective is a tiered annual membership starting at $52 per year, tax-deductible, that connects businesses and provides support for the WRHS at the same time for their more than 1,500 missions each and every year.
Danny Eather, the WRHS Community Liaison Officer based in Singleton said during the pandemic they had the opportunity to step back and think about how they can recognise the support from businesses.
“During Covid, we had the opportunity to step back and really look at how we could recognise the support we get from our local businesses and one of the key things that came through was that our small to medium size businesses like our tradies and retail providers that support us don’t get the support back they deserve.
“There was no real way of bringing them together and recognising their support so we developed the Helicopter Collective,” he said.
There are Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of membership and each one has benefits that go along with it. In the bronze category businesses get RESCUE Magazine delivered quarterly by post and mission updates sent monthly as well as a welcome supporter pack.
In each category after bronze, the businesses get entries into a draw to have their business logo added to the helicopter within that business’ region for a 12-month period. That alone is valued at $80,000 per year. As well as that are invitations to the annual networking function with other Helicopter Collective members across Northern NSW, with a chance to meet and greet with the rescue operations crew and the CEO Richard Jones.
The silver category is $330 per year and entitles the business to the welcome pack, magazine, entry for their logo on the helicopter and an invitation to the networking function.
In the gold and platinum tiers, there are more entries and invitations, the opportunity to host functions and other benefits as well.
“There would be nothing better than seeing a local tradie on the helicopter,” said Danny.
“It’s about everyone playing their little part and Richard says it all the time that a little bit from everyone makes a massive difference and it’s never been more true.
“So whether it’s the $52 membership or gold at about $1,000 it makes a huge difference and when you’re talking about an organisation that started with an operating budget of around $30,000 back in 1975 to now nearly a $45 million operation saving lives, it makes a huge difference.”
Danny is encouraging businesses to jump on board the Helicopter Collective which benefits them and the WRHS.
“It continues to go from strength to strength and we see that now, with things getting tough economic wise, people are finding their way and this was a nice way and a structured way for people to support us and it’s our way to say thank you.
“We strive to make sure we thank everyone from $5 to the six-figure numbers,” said Danny.