The Northland Rescue Helicopter has a new ambassador and former Trans-Atlantic Rowing Champion and Olympian Rob Hamill is already spreading the word throughout the Pacific.
Hamill, who set sail from Whangārei last month with his family to sail the Pacific, is the latest ambassador for the Northland Rescue Helicopter service.
The announcement comes as the service prepares to celebrate 30 years of saving lives.
Hamill put his hand up to help raise awareness of the need for ongoing public donations after spending many weeks in Northland recently getting his 43-foot catamaran Javelot ready for the family's - wife, Rachel, and three children, Finn, 16, Declan, 14, and Ivan, 11 - sailing adventure to the Pacific Islands and beyond.
He knows only too well how life can change in a split second, having now lost three of his siblings to varying causes of death over the past 30 years. And after rowing over 4000km across the Atlantic Ocean in 1997, Hamill says he became acutely aware of how vulnerable people can be without help at hand.
"I am very privileged to be supporting the Northland Rescue Helicopter service because the work they do is amazing," Hamill said.
"It has been said by many people before but you just never know when you might need the service and I am looking forward to taking part in some of the activities during the 2018 fundraising appeal."
Northland Rescue Helicopter General Manager Vanessa Furze said the service is thrilled to have Hamill on board.
"We are so well represented by our ambassadors and they really are very important to helping raise the awareness of our need to raise funds to meet operational shortfalls over the busy summer months," Furze said.
"Those public donations are just as crucial as the sponsorship we receive from Northpower ($100,000 annually) and Top Energy ($50,000 annually), plus all of our other sponsors, supporters – and of course the generous funding and ongoing support we receive from the Northland Regional Council."
The Northland Rescue Helicopter Service has flown more than 20,000 missions since 1988 and has been instrumental in saving thousands of lives. In 2011 the service completed 581 jobs compared to 901 in 2017. The flight tally for 2018 has already reached 718.