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AA, RNZAF and Medics Get Behind Kiwi Kids


Support crews polish their tools for Variety Trillian Bash

The classic cars and trucks of the Variety Trillian Bash wouldn’t hit the distances they do, raising money and handing out grants to children in need, if it weren’t for support from the AA, the RNZAF and a medical crew.

AA National Roadservice Manager John Healy says “The AA is pleased to support such a worthy charity as Variety, and hopes the breakdown service we support helps to keep the Bash vehicles on the road as they move through New Zealand communities.”

This year the AA’s hard-working service crew will be joined by eight young air force mechanics. RNZAF workshop manager Richard Burn says, “Service before self is a phrase that’s synonymous with the image and ethos of the RNZAF, but if you can also have some fun along the way, well, that’s just good planning!”

His crew is currently counting off its tool supplies in readiness for the March 7-14 Variety Trillian Bash, which will zig-zag from New Plymouth to Ohakune and Waiouru, to Wellington and Napier, Taupo and Rotorua, Tauranga and Cambridge before finishing in Auckland.

“The Variety Bash is an ideal event for Ground Support Equipment Technicians (GSETECHs) to get outside of their cosy hangar environment, help to do some good deeds and even carry out some deployment and further trade training,“ he says.

“It’s great to meet folk from different walks of life, and brush shoulders with the celebrities along for the ride, but the chance to carry out some field training is the main justification for RNZAF participation.”

“Training for Ops is the daily routine for flying squadrons, but how do you simulate it for GSE techs? To get them to think laterally, have them repair a 50-year-old converted fire engine blocking a single-track road 60km from the nearest garage, with no help other than your mates within radio contact and the tools crammed into the van before you left base.”

Thus far the AA and RNZAF team have a 100-per-cent fix rate, sometimes assisted by parts found in nearby farmers’ barns, and the team – with members from Auckland, Ohakea and Woodbourne – enjoy the experience, “But they return to their bases both physically and mentally spent!”

As for the folk aboard each car, they’re supported by Les ‘McShambles’ and Maria McLaren, who’ve been in the medical field for 35 years, Les as an Advanced Care Paramedic with St John for 23 years and Maria a registered nurse. The couple run a private ambulance service and deliver basic medical training, but they donate their time – and the ambulance – to the Variety Trillian Bash.

Les has been involved for 15 years since a phone call asked to borrow an ambulance. That touched his soft button, and he was in. That first Bash saw him well rinsed – ‘Virgin’ Bashers are christened by one of the fire engines in attendance – and a bit poorer as he dropped change in team buckets.

He now joins in the fund-raising along the route, one year going head to head with late comedian Ewen Gilmour’s team. Its concerts along the route were met by the ambulance bucket-shake traffic-stops, the two teams raising over $16,000 alone.

“You can’t get past watching grants being given to kids who obviously need a helping hand, and thinking ‘we Bashers made this possible,’ and there’s always a memory that stands out, like the small boy brought to us as he’d torn his toenail off running around the crews’ cars, and discovering he was a victim of child abuse – yet was still able to smile once we’d sorted everything out.”

That’s the thing about Bashers. They start off raising a bit of money and having some fun, and they draw other folk in, because everyone knows what it’s like to sometimes need a hand.

If you’re along the route of the 2015 Variety Bash, come along, bring change, and say hello to the Medics, the AA and the crews from the RNZAF, they’d be delighted to help spread the word.

© Scoop Media

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