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17 November, 2020

REVEALED: 2020 Royal Flying Doctor Service Local Hero Award winners

FROM devoted fundraisers to tireless volunteers, first responders and dedicated healthcare workers, the regional winners of the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Awards are an inspiring group of Queenslanders.


Gregory township Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) members Bev Webber and Rebecca Dixon.

FROM devoted fundraisers to tireless volunteers, first responders and dedicated healthcare workers, the regional winners of the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Awards are an inspiring group of Queenslanders.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) today announced nine winning individuals or groups – each representing one of its base locations.

The annual Local Hero Awards, proudly supported by Ergon Energy Retail, Seven News Queensland and Queensland Country Life, recognise Queenslanders who have donated their time and energy to keep the Flying Doctor in the air and assisting the communities which need it the most.

This year’s winners include a group of buskers who fundraise for the RFDS, a mine site nurse who goes above and beyond to assist the Service in delivery of monthly clinics for the town, and a helicopter pilot who flew a car accident victim to a location which the Flying

Doctor could land and provide an emergency transfer for the patient to hospital. Also honoured are RFDS Auxiliary members, a Rotary Club and a QCWA Branch – all committed supporters of the Service.

RFDS (Queensland Section) CEO Meredith Staib said a record 115 nominations were received for this year’s awards.

“The calibre of nominations was incredibly high. Such was the difficulty in determining just nine regional winners, we acknowledged five other nominees with special awards honouring their contribution,” she said.

“On behalf of the RFDS I would like to congratulate all winners for their efforts to support the Flying Doctor. I would also like to thank every single nominee for their ongoing efforts to keep us in the air.

“We simply could not perform the work we do without the help of our supporters, so it gives me great pleasure to take this opportunity to recognise their hard work.” Ergon Energy Retail Executive General Manager Ayesha Razzaq said the business was proud to extend its support to recognise the outstanding efforts of regional Queenslanders in a year that had been extremely hard on many.

“Reading through the nominations, I am impressed with the lengths these community members go to in assisting the RFDS, they are all winners. I’m really looking forward to hearing who this year’s overall hero is and sharing how they‘ll use the community grant to continue to help others,” she said.

“This is our fifth year as a proud partner of the Local Hero Awards, which also coincides with us reaching the very special milestone of 20 years since we partnered with the RFDS. The awards are also an opportunity to thank our customers and employees who’ve helped raise close to $15.5 million for the vital work of the RFDS in that time.”

Ms Staib said Queenslanders were now encouraged to vote for the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for Queensland, who would win a $7,500 grant to give back to their community.

“You can learn more about each of our regional winners by viewing video packages online and then voting for the person or group which you believe should be crowned our overall winner for Queensland,” she said.

Vote for the 2020 Queensland RFDS Local Hero by visiting www.rfdslocalhero.com.au.

2020 Local Hero Award Regional Winners:

Brisbane – Jane Milward

Bundaberg – Rotary Club of Bundaberg

Cairns – James Telford

Charleville – Sue McDonald

Longreach – Bede Little

Mount Isa – QCWA Gregory Branch

Rockhampton – Rockhampton RFDS Volunteer Auxiliary

Roma – Trent Challenger

Townsville – Gregory Clark & Ravenswood Nurses

Traeger Youth Award – Oscar Finger

Hugh McKay Award – Gordon Dean; Jean and Mervyn Shaw

Spirit of John Flynn Award – Dr Myint Soe

2020 Brisbane RFDS Local Hero Award winner

An innovative group of fundraisers, who have combined their passion for performing with that for the Flying Doctor, have been crowned the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winners for Brisbane.

Five years ago, Jane Milward began busking with her ukulele with the goal of raising funds for the RFDS. Almost $12,000 later, Ms Milward and her group, the Flying Buskers, have now performed in various venues across the state. In addition to raising vital dollars for the Service, the group have become passionate ambassadors, helping to also raise the profile of the iconic aeromedical organisation.

Flying Buskers members Sue Colman, Jane Milward and Des Whitby.
Flying Buskers members Sue Colman, Jane Milward and Des Whitby.

2020 Bundaberg RFDS Local Hero Award winner

Extensive volunteer support of the Flying Doctor, spearheaded by a former patient, has led to the Rotary Club of Bundaberg winning the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award for Bundaberg.

The Rotary Club of Bundaberg has been an integral part of the local community for many years, supporting many organisations, including the RFDS, through their fundraising and volunteer efforts.

The club this year supported the opening of the new RFDS Bundaberg Base with a generous donation, as well as performing extensive work to establish gardens at the new base.

Matt Griffiths, who had previously been transported by the RFDS, rallied over 40 of his fellow Rotary members to assist with the manual labour required to landscape the new base. Mr Griffiths further assisted the relocation by moving furniture and equipment from the old base to the new location. He also has a close working relationship with the RFDS Bundaberg Volunteer Auxiliary, providing them with access to Rotary events at which they can fundraise.

Rotary Club of Bundaberg members Frank Hayes and Matt Griffiths.
Rotary Club of Bundaberg members Frank Hayes and Matt Griffiths.

Hugh McKay Award Recipient – Gordon Dean, Bundaberg

Gordon Dean, treasurer of the RFDS Auxiliary in Bundaberg, is a tireless volunteer. Mr Dean and his late wife were founding members of the Auxiliary, both devoting countless hours in support of the Flying Doctor. Now 85, Mr Dean continues to dedicate his time to the RFDS, going above and beyond in a demonstration of his loyalty and dedication to the Service.

2020 Cairns RFDS Local Hero Award winner

A helicopter pilot who rushed to the aid of a car accident victim on a remote cattle station in North Queensland has been crowned the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Cairns region.

James Telford, a helicopter pilot, was working on Van Rook Station when alerted to a car accident elsewhere on the property, which is located on the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria.

One of the first on scene, James realised that the sole passenger needed urgent medical attention.

Knowing that a neighbouring station contained an airstrip on which the RFDS could land, James loaded the semi-conscious victim into his helicopter and flew the female patient to Dorunda Station.

James, along with fellow staff from the Gulf Coast Agricultural Company, were able to further assist the patient until the RFDS crew could land and transport her back to Cairns. The patient fortunately made a full recovery – largely due to the actions of James on that day.

2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Cairns region James Telford.
2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Cairns region James Telford.

Hugh McKay Award Recipient – Jean & Mervyn Shaw, Ravenshoe

Jean and Mervyn Shaw are dedicated supporters of the RFDS. So much so, the couple were last year made life members of the RFDS Near and Far Auxiliary. From attending almost every Auxiliary meeting, to heavily assisting in the coordination of RFDS Field Day events, and even making jams and craft works for sale, the Shaw’s go above and beyond in their support of the Service. They are first to put their names down, or hands up, to work at stalls or sausage sizzles which raise funds for the RFDS.

2020 Charleville RFDS Local Hero Award winner

A dedicated volunteer and passionate ambassador for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) has been crowned the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Charleville region.

As a member of the Buckland Recreation Club, Sue McDonald is the driving force behind an annual RFDS Field Day at Buckland in Central Queensland. People who attend Field Days live in rural and remote areas, relying on the RFDS for medical support and emergency retrievals. The event ensures attendees can learn vital first aid treatment in case of an emergency.

Ms McDonald is very proactive in promoting health in the community, often seeking opportunities to enhance her own health literacy in order to assist others. The club also maintains the airstrip for the RFDS in readiness for emergency retrievals, as well as the transport of crew and clinicians for the Field Day events. While the region has experienced severe drought conditions for several years and many are doing it tough, the Buckland Recreation Club continues to support and fundraise for the RFDS.

2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the for the Charleville region Sue McDonald.
2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the for the Charleville region Sue McDonald.

Traeger Youth Award Recipient – Oscar Finger, Clermont

Motivated by a personal connection to the Flying Doctor, Oscar Finger fundraised over $12,000 for the Service late last year. Oscar’s mum was transferred by the RFDS when she went into premature labour with Oscar in 2007. In the lead-up to his 12th birthday last year, Oscar chose to forgo gifts, instead devising a plan to grow out a mullet which he planned to have cut off at his birthday barbecue. His initial goal of raising $500 was quickly surpassed, aided by raffles, digital fundraising and the birthday bash. The end result was a grand total of $12,323.50 raised for the RFDS.

2020 Mount Isa RFDS Local Hero Award winner

A dedicated and tireless group of volunteers have been crowned the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Mount Isa region. The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) today announced nine regional Local Hero Award winners – each representing one of its base locations. 

The hardworking ladies of the Gregory township Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) are fundamental to the operation of the fortnightly RFDS primary health care clinic. The dedicated group of ladies ensure the clinic facility is cleaned, meals are prepared for the Flying Doctor team and the crew is transported from the airstrip to the clinic. But it is the work they put in leading up to clinic days that truly emphasises their unwavering support for the RFDS, tirelessly fundraising to purchase medical equipment for the clinic and township. 

They even coordinate with other clubs in the district to ensure a generator is ready to power the clinic as there is no mains power at Gregory.

Gregory township Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) members Bev Webber and Rebecca Dixon.
Gregory township Queensland Country Women’s Association (QCWA) members Bev Webber and Rebecca Dixon.

2020 Rockhampton RFDS Local Hero Award winner

A dedicated group of fundraisers, who have generated more than $1.3 million for the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS), have been crowned the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winners for Rockhampton.

The Rockhampton RFDS Volunteer Auxiliary began donating to the Service in 1994, working tirelessly throughout this time to help raise vital funds.

In 2019 alone, the group raised $100,000, bringing their total funds raised for the RFDS to $1.3 million. The auxiliary hosts morning tea events at Rockhampton Heritage Village every three months and also stages additional raffles at various shopping centres throughout the year. A pop-up craft shop which the group hosted throughout the month of September raised a staggering $25,000.

Rockhampton RFDS Volunteer Auxiliary members Jan Nightingale, Margaret Littleton and Margaret Laughton.
Rockhampton RFDS Volunteer Auxiliary members Jan Nightingale, Margaret Littleton and Margaret Laughton.

2020 Roma RFDS Local Hero Award winner

Tireless fundraisers and loyal supporters of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS), Trent and Elizabeth Challenger have been crowned the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winners for the Roma region.

Trent and Elizabeth Challenger are a husband-and-wife team who own and run the St George Bakery, raising vital funds for the RFDS through their business. 

They are motivated by the fact the RFDS transferred Trent to Brisbane for surgery over a decade ago. Mr Challenger now uses his vintage bread delivery vehicle to provide tourists with a trip around St George and donates the fare to the Flying Doctor. 

The couple also support the Nindigully Pub’s fundraising initiatives for the RFDS, along with the annual Nindigully Pig Races which generate in excess of $25,000 for the Flying Doctor.

2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winners for the Roma region, Trent and Elizabeth Challenger.
2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winners for the Roma region, Trent and Elizabeth Challenger.

2020 Townsville RFDS Local Hero Award winner

A selfless, community-minded nurse from Ravenswood has been crowned the 2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Townsville region. Greg Clark from the Ravenswood gold mine was nominated for his dedication to the health and wellbeing of the entire Ravenswood community. 

Mr Clark, along with his fellow Ravenswood Gold nurse, Vanessa De Landelles, are regularly called upon to go above their call of duty as the mine’s dedicated nurses, to deliver healthcare to the people of Ravenswood. 

Whether it’s responding to a heart attack in the community, or administering treatment to a broken bone, the dedication and professionalism shown by Mr Clark is testament to his unwavering dedication to the people of Ravenswood. 

His selfless demeanour is heightened by his work with the Flying Doctor in organising the monthly primary health care clinic, including transporting the RFDS crew from the airstrip and providing lunch for the clinic staff.

2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Townsville region Greg Clark.
2020 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Townsville region Greg Clark.

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