Trekkers go extra mile for ‘The Doctor’

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A pair of local residents will join more than 100 pre-1978 car drivers for the Outback Car Trek this June, raising much-needed funds for the Royal Flying Doctor’s Service.

Long-time Berwick businessman David Nutter and Upper Beaconsfield’s Barry Pitcher will drive in a specially prepared 1966 Ford Galaxy able to withstand the rigours of a 3500 kilometre trek across “rough-and-tumble” country from Narrabri, New South Wales, via the Gulf of Carpentaria to Port Douglas in far north Queensland.

David said his team, Black Cavalier, were aiming to raise more than $20,000 for the RFDS and were edging closer each day with the help of donations from family, friends, rotary, businesses and individuals, totalling $18,000 thus far.

“We got involved through friends who have been trekkers for 14 years. They badgered us to get involved and raise funds for ‘The Doctor’ and I’m very glad we did,” David said.

“Last year was our first and what a great trek it was; we saw some fantastic parts of Australia and met some great people. There’s a real sense of camaraderie during that week in the bush.”

Barry said he regarded people from small towns as the “real spirit and backbone of this country”.

“When you travel through the Outback you really get a sense of what a vital service and mantle of safety the RFDS is for these communities, transporting over 8500 patients per year,” Barry said.

“The arrival of 300 “Trekkers” injects badly needed money into those local economies, and we also do some community fund-raising along the way. It’s estimated that the Trek leaves $70,000 in each place it visits.”

The annual pilgrimage has raised over $23 million for the Royal Flying Doctor Service since its inception in 1990, with more than $1.3 million raised last year alone.

Over the past year, the South Eastern Section of the not-for-profit service has facilitated almost 5000 clinics, taken about 6400 telehealth calls and transported 8500 patients.

RFDS helped more than 292,000 people nationally last year.

The local duo have a secret weapon in Aussie pop icon Kate Ceberano, a mate’s relative, who has promoted their cause across her social media network.

“I love the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and it’s my favourite charity. I love what Barry and David are doing as part of the Outback Car Trek which raises much-needed funds for the RFDS every year,” Ms Ceberano wrote.

“I support my boys wholeheartedly. I ask you to help them beat their target. You are my everyday heroes for supporting this wonderful cause; this Australian Iconic service.”

RFDS South Eastern Section general manager of fund-raising Brendon Smyth said that while partially supported by the Commonwealth and state governments, they rely heavily on community donations.

Ms Ceberano has offered a signed photo of herself for every donation of $100 or more.

The Outback Car Trek is on 5 June. For more information or to donate to David’s cause, visit outbackcartrek2016.everydayhero.com/au/Car_1966.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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