There are hundreds of Kiwis out there who would not be here today without the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter. They suffered injuries that, without the emergency choppers and the expert teams on board, would have killed them. Today, to mark the Westpac Rescue Helicopters’ annual appeal month we speak to people who have been in that situation - people who would have been dead at the scene of their crash or accident if not for the rescue service.

The kid packs a powerful punch - and she's getting stronger by the week.

Her right hook slams into the pad sending an echo through the garage where she trains, followed quickly by sharp whack from her left.

It's hard to believe this fiery and focused young woman is the same little girl who stole New Zealand's heart when she cheated death as a baby.

Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman is now 13 and despite being a quadruple amputee, has a new passion.

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Boxing.

And she's pretty good.

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In 2004 Charlotte contracted the deadly meningococcal disease.

She was just six months old at the time and her little body was ravaged.

Doctors were forced to partly amputate both her legs and both arms to save her life.

Her story led to a huge shift in awareness around meningitis and swayed parents to immunise their children.

If not for the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter though, her story may have been very different.

"It's not sweat, it's liquid awesome," Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman told the Herald on Sunday during her training session. NZ Herald photograph by Brett Phibbs

Her frantic parents rushed the sick infant to their medical centre on Waiheke Island and it was soon decided she needed to be airlifted to Starship Children's Hospital.

There was resuscitated twice in that first half hour of arriving before she was stabilised.

The little girl remained in hospital until November 2004 - just in time for her first birthday.

Charlotte became a household name and has continued to smash the odds over the years.

Despite her amputations, she can walk with the help of prosthetics, she's surfed, sky dived and now she's found a new passion in boxing.

"It lets out my anger, I have so much build up in my physical self sometimes that I just have to let it out," she told the Herald on Sunday.

"I was really depressed and I wanted to lose weight and I just felt like doing it for myself."

Packing a punch - Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman training with her coach Heidi Collins. NZ Herald photograph by Brett Phibbs
Packing a punch - Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman training with her coach Heidi Collins. NZ Herald photograph by Brett Phibbs

Once a week Charlotte ferries across from her home on Waiheke - alone, which is part of her ever-growing independence - and is met on the city side by her trainer Heidi Collins.

They head to Collins' Greenhithe home gym and Charlotte is put through her paces.

Five or so laps up and down the stairs, then she's into planks, bridges, leg lifts and the like before she gets jabbing, upper cutting and pounding the bags and pads.

"She's pushes me to the limit," Charlotte said of her trainer.

"But it's good, it's opened up my mind and it's about independence for me."

Alongside the training Charlotte has a healthy eating plan and is focused on getting fitter and stronger than ever.

"Char has more energy now, she can train harder," said Collins.

"She's got a great attitude, I wouldn't train her otherwise.

"She's made a choice to show up each week - and she does."

While being an amputee is obviously limiting in some ways, Charlotte refuses to let it beat her.

"I want to get stronger and more independent and succeed at things," she said.

"I'm not doing this for anyone else, I'm doing this for me, it's my choice."

Charlotte crunching her abs as part of her weekly boxing training regime. NZ Herald photograph by Brett Phibbs
Charlotte crunching her abs as part of her weekly boxing training regime. NZ Herald photograph by Brett Phibbs

Charlotte was well aware that without the help she got when she was so sick as a baby - particularly from the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew - she would not be where she is today.

In fact, she probably would not be here at all.

"They saved my life," she said.

"If it wasn't for them I probably would have just died... but here I am."

May is the annual Westpac Rescue Helicopter appeal month.
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter aim to raise at least $200,000 by June 30.
To donate to the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter click here

The facts: Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter


• The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust operates two Westpac rescue choppers
• The helicopters are BK 117-850D2's
• The service covers 1.4 million people in the Auckland and Coromandel areas
• They undertake about 1000 missions each year
• Each mission costs around $8000 and while they get some funding, more than half of that cost is met through donations
• Missions include emergency medical transfers, casualties/accidents and assisting police, fire, ambulance and search and rescue
• The ARHT are the only rescue helicopter service in New Zealand to carry emergency trauma doctors on board
• The only rescue helicopter service in New Zealand to carry whole blood on board, enabling the medical team to provide blood transfusions at the scene