Trio take up oars for charity

By Liz Wylie

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Celebrity Challenge: Collegiate headmaster Chris Moller, Mayor Hamish McDouall and Councillor Phillipa Baker-Hogan competed in the rowing challenge.
Celebrity Challenge: Collegiate headmaster Chris Moller, Mayor Hamish McDouall and Councillor Phillipa Baker-Hogan competed in the rowing challenge.

A mayor, a headmaster and a former olympic champion walked into a gymnasium...

It sounds like the first line of a bad joke but it was a serious effort for a good cause when Hamish McDouall, Chris Moller and Phillipa Baker-Hogan participated in Project Toolkit last week.

Project Toolkit, held in the Wanganui Collegiate great hall was a fundraising event to assist the work of Whanganui Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) surgeon Dr PJ Faumui.

The Wanganui North Rotary Club are supporting the work of Rose Charities NZ to assist Dr Faumui by raising money to buy equipment for Ear, Nose and Throat surgeries performed in Samoa. There is no permanent ENT surgeon in Samoa and every time "PJ" (as he is affectionately known) visits his family in Samoa he conducts an ENT clinic at Apia Hospital.

Dr Faumui sees about 40 or 50 patients a day but, without good medical instruments, and is able to give them only very simple low-risk treatment.

Rose Charities aims to raise $45,000 to purchase a set of top quality ENT instruments and the custom-designed trays which will make it possible to transport them between New Zealand and Samoa for visiting volunteer surgeons to conduct ENT clinics there.

The equipment will assist an estimated 25,000 Samoan children who need the treatment.
The "Mayoral 250 Metre Challenge" completed by Mr Moller, Mrs Baker-Hogan and Mr McDouall was the highlight of the event which included races between police and fire service personnel, rotary members and teenage racers all working to win $2 bets from the audience.

Trying to beat former olympic rower Mrs Baker-Hogan to the 250 metre goal on a rowing machine was hard work for her two competitiors although Mr Moller said he felt he did "quite well."

Mr McDouall said he felt he was doing well, keeping up a distance of six or seven metres behind Mrs Baker-Hogan until he got to the 200 metre mark.

"After that it got really tough and I have a profound respect for Phillipa, having done that for a living.

"She did explain that lactate levels tend to drop around the 200 metre mark and that is why it starts to get really tough."

Mr McDouall said the experience was fun but he hopes he won't be called on to do it again in a hurry.

Tony Hodge of Wanganui North Rotary said the funds raised have not been tallied yet but he believes it was a great effort.

"We are very grateful for the support of so many Wanganui business people and individuals who contributed some great prizes and cash donations on the night."

Mr Hodge said the club would especially like to thank Whanganui River Developments Ltd, the main event sponsor.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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