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Fundraising auction gets a leg up

Wellington Free Ambulance’s Camille Armstrong loads a stretcher. PHOTO/FILE

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“If we want to have a world-class ambulance system, like we’ve got and it’s free, then we need to support it.”

Greytown resident and chef Martin Bosley. PHOTO/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

So said Greytown resident Martin Bosley. The renowned chef got first-hand experience of Wellington Free Ambulance’s service when it responded to an accident at his home in February.

Bosley had been standing on an old aluminium ladder, trimming a hedge, when he heard the metal creak. The step gave way and he fell, resulting in a compound fracture to his left tibia, fibula, and ankle.

“I tried to walk, I didn’t know why I couldn’t,” Bosley said.

“The step acted as a guillotine and went through my foot. It was unbelievable.

“It’s almost like an out-of-body experience.”

A neighbour came when Bosley called out for help, assisting him until the ambulance arrived.

“When they arrived in those green jumpsuits, I felt safe, I felt calm and I felt overwhelming relief.”

Bosley was impressed by the ambulance staff, who not only tended to him but also calmed his 83-year-old mother.

“All that stuff you don’t know about the ambulance, you don’t know until you need it,” he said.

“At no stage was I left wondering, they informed me the whole way.

“Then you find out how woefully funded they are.”

Bosley’s time and talent will be auctioned off this Saturday. Held annually since 2019, the WFA fundraising ball was cancelled due to the covid-19 outbreak and alert level changes.

One of many prizes up for auction at the event was a dinner for six, prepared by Bosley.

Event organiser Alix Cooper said the event raised a significant amount of funds for the free service.

“They’ve always been a sellout,” she said.

“We’re deeply disappointed not just for the work that we’ve put in, but for all the money we were going to raise.”

While Cooper was involved in multiple causes, she was particularly passionate about this one.

“This one is so important. It’s saving lives.”

WFA had helped people from all walks of life, Cooper said, from the pregnant to the elderly. It regularly attended major sporting events.

“It’s the only [free ambulance service] that’s left in the whole country and to have that in Wairarapa is amazing.”

While event organisers were unsure whether the ball would make a comeback for 2022, they were determined to hold some type of fundraiser for the service.

Bosley had been involved in multiple fundraisers in his time, and said a chef-cooked dinner was always a “good-earner”.

“A new ambulance is $250,000,” he said.

“That’s a lot of cash to raise, so it’s ‘what can I do to help?’.”

Bosley was grateful to ambulance staff for saving his limb, and possibly his life.

“They never stop, those guys,” he said. In fact, the ambulance had stopped while driving him to the hospital to attend to a car crash.

“That’s how stretched they are,” Bosley said. According to him, Wairarapa had four ambulances across its two Wairarapa branches [Greytown and Masterton], both of which were crewed 24/7.

Bosley moved to the region almost three years ago. He came from Wellington to view a Greytown property wearing jeans and a rain jacket, and was greeted by a real estate agent in a sundress and sunhat, who said, “Welcome to your new home”.

“That felt really good, it felt right.”

Within three days of moving in, Bosley had met all his neighbours, who came bearing their summer green bean and tomato harvests.

The same community had called the ambulance when Bosley lay fallen in his garden, and later brought pre-cooked meals when he was healing.

“That’s what we do in this country. When people need help, we cook for each other,” he said.

It was this sense of community that Bosley hoped would encourage people to donate to the free ambulance service, despite the cancellation of its major fundraisers this year.

For more information about Wellington Free Ambulance, or to donate, visit www.wfa.org.nz

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