In an era where having multiple jobs in as many years is common place, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service recently honoured 10 people for careers that have spanned decades, and in one case a lifetime.
Barry Walton was recognised for his 40 years of service with the Rescue Helicopter. Barry began his involvement as volunteer crewmen when the Service was established in the summer of 1975 and worked as a crewman until 2003.
Barry is a Community Liaison Officer who is now based back in the Hunter. In 1991, Barry was employed fulltime as an Air Crewman and also became a Marketing Officer for the Service working with and developing the Volunteer Support Group network. In 2000, Barry relocated to Tamworth to work as the Marketing Officer for the newly established Service for the New England – North West region. In August 2003 he retired from the flying operations and was appointed as Special Projects Officer for the New England North West where he remained until 2014 when he returned to Newcastle and is currently coordinating a number of community events including the Service’s 40 year staff and volunteer reunion and a special 40 year exhibition to be held in June 2016 at Newcastle Museum.
Crewman and Crew Chief Peter Cummings has worked with the Service for 25 years, joining after a career in the Royal Australian Navy. He has been responsible for crew and rescue crew rosters and training as well as media liaison over the past decade in his roles as senior crewman and Crew Chief.
Also recognised for his long-term service (20 years) was General Manager Richard Jones. Richard has been the General Manager of the Rescue Helicopter since 1995, and has overseen many significant changes that have included several major upgrades to helicopter technology, the establishment of a permanent base at Tamworth to compliment that at Newcastle, catastrophic damage to the Newcastle base during major storms of 2007, and loss of an aircraft in a crash. Most recently Richard steered the Service to win a NSW Government tender to deliver services to the entire Northern NSW region from 2017.
Also at the 20 year mark is Robert Jenkins, now the Safety, Quality and HR Manager. He has been associated with the Service since 1987 when he joined as a crewman. He left to work for NSW Police and worked in the aviation industry (staying involved as a Rescue Helicopter Volunteer) before returning in 2002. Rob been instrumental in ensuring that that Service was well positioned for growth and to meet the needs of its staff of more than 60 people.
Other people to receive awards were:
- Matt Wallace, Engineer
- Judy Rodway, Finance Officer
- Peter Grimmond, Facilities Manager
- John Candy, Commercial Finance Manager
- Mark Goolmeer, Pilot
- Mike de Winton, Chief Pilot
Service Chairman, Cliff Marsh OAM, said that each of these people had worked well beyond their job titles.
“These people have collectively inspired literally thousands of people to contribute to this community service and are highly respected by their colleagues,” Cliff said. “No challenge has ever been too much for any of them and we are so grateful that they are part of a team that now includes more than 60 people working across the Hunter, Mid North Coast, Central Coast, New England and North West regions.”
The long-service awards were presented at the Services’ Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, 30 September 2015.
Image | Peter Grimmond, Judy Rodway, Rob Jenkins, Matt Wallace, Barry Walton, John Candy, Mark Goolmeer, Richard Jones and Peter Cummings
Since 1975 the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service has grown from a part-time voluntary summer beach patrol to world-class aeromedical search and rescue operation.
No one has ever paid to be assisted by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. That is because their fellow citizens and the NSW Government through NSW Health and the Ambulance Service of NSW provide the funds that ensure the rescue helicopters are there when and where they are needed.