On the 25th of February 2022, four riders from Ashburton, calling themselves the Rescue Warriors, set off from Ninety Mile Beach on the first leg of Tour Aotearoa 2022; a 3,000km cycle brevet from Cape Reinga to Bluff. Bruce Kell, David Keeley, Warren Harris and Willy Leferink, all local Ashburton men, and with an average age of 62 (day one of their ride was Bruce’s 60th birthday!) decided not only to take on the biking challenge, but to also raise money for Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. The riders arrived in Bluff on day 24 of their incredible journey.

On 12th May, we were privileged to host the Rescue Warriors (minus Willy, who was isolating at home), along with 150 of their sponsors, supporters, families and friends at the Ashburton Aviation Museum for a celebration of their successful ride, and the highly anticipated fundraising reveal. Following the welcome and formalities, Bruce, David and Warren took to the microphone to share with guests some of their experiences along the way, and finally came the BIG REVEAL. Through a combination of sponsorships and community donations the team announced that they had raised a whopping $103,318 – making it the most successful third party community fundraising event for the Rescue Helicopter Trust in its 33 year history. The announcement was a truly moving moment and the standing ovation was fittingly long and loud.

On behalf of the Rescue Helicopter crew and the Trust team we want to extend a HUGE thank you to everyone who supported the Rescue Warriors; the sponsors and donors who contributed towards this incredible result, as well as all the colleagues, families and friends who supported and encouraged the guys every step of the way. And to the Ashburton Aviation Museum for the use of their fantastic facilities, and the delicious afternoon tea.