It took 12 hours to raise the $400 needed to promote Maitland’s biggest Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service fund-raiser . . . and only five minutes to slash it to pieces.
Volunteers of the service’s Maitland support group have been left reeling after vandals destroyed a banner used to promote the Westpac Rescue Helicopter annual Christmas in July event.
Hooked up in a prime location on a billboard along the New England Highway, Rutherford, the banner was first removed and then slashed into five pieces.
“This is a harmless sign. We’re here to make money for the community and a service that comes to help you when you are in need so I can’t understand the senselessness of it,” the group’s events co-ordinator, Joanne Woodbury, said.
“And now there is no way we’ll have time to repair the sign before the event.
“This is community money raised through the generous people of Maitland and it takes a lot of time to get the money we get ... it’s incredibly labour intensive.
"We’ll have to fund-raise again to replace the sign and that will mean four or five raffle days to replace the money we’ll need to spend on this.”
Ms Woodbury said the July event aims to raise $10,000 for the life-saving service.
“This is our major fund-raiser for the year and the money goes toward keeping the service running,” she said.
“There are 30 support groups in the Hunter/ New England area and we raise $1.2 million per year.
“It costs $13 million a year to run the service and the government only comes to the party for 40 per cent so we need to find the other 60 per cent somewhere else.”
The Maitland Westpace Rescue Helicopter Service Christmas in July event will be held at Telarah Bowling Club on July 28. Tickets are $60. For more information phone Ms Woodbury on 4932 3768.