For the local Social Cruizers New Zealand motorcycle club riders there was never any hesitation in supporting the Hawke's Bay Air Ambulance as several of them had benefited from their service.

"George has used it before," was how Theresa Sands, partner of club president George Sands, put it.

"In fact four members of our club have used the service," she said, adding that several other riders involved in last Saturday's fundraising ride, or members of their families, had also benefited from it.

Theresa Sands said it was the first of what would become an annual fundraising ride, and predicted that it would grow as they planned an earlier date in future so as not to coincide with other events happening across the region.


The 38 riders who took part in the "excellent ride" from Stortford Lodge to the air ambulance centre at Hawke's Bay Airport were keen to open their wallets.

Sands said they targeted raising at least $1000 and at the end of the day they tallied up $1033.

Vice-chairman of the Hawke's Bay Air Ambulance Trust, Tony Bryan, said every donation was greatly appreciated, and to show their gratitude Skyline Aviation and the Hawke's Bay Airport opened the gates to the riders and hosted them at the air ambulance centre for a sausage sizzle and a tour of the facilities.

"We were delighted to hear they were doing this for us because yes, every donation helps."

The trust, steered by its seven trustees, looks after the public fundraising side of helping finance the service which is operated by Skyline Aviation and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board.

Bryan said since the trust was set up to raise funds 11 years ago it had drawn in about $200,000 and that had been used to purchase equipment as well as to fund staff training.

The trust had funded a hydraulic lifter to assist patients into the aircraft as well as incubators and baby pods, and had recently funded advanced training in Wellington for four service members.

That helped lift some of the financial burden from Skyline and the DHB.


The Hawke's Bay Air Ambulance, which operates using fixed-wing aircraft, makes on average about 2000 flights a year. Bryan said the recognition of its service to the region was the spur for the trust which is expanding with the imminent appointment of two additional trustees to pursue crucial fundraising.

Hawke's Bay Airport Ltd was also set to climb aboard to become a major sponsor.

A memorandum of understanding was presently being sorted between the trust and the company for an annual donation to be made.

An annual donation was also now firmly on the Social Cruizer's calender, and the latest ride was one of a series of fundraising rides in support of community groups and services.