Nancy Sharp ready for her flight over the Tararuas. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

GIANINA SCHWANECKE

The wish tree at Lansdowne Park lifestyle village has many and varied fruit – a trip to Castlepoint, a shopping spree in town, a new garden, a ride in a fast car and flying over the Tararuas.

These are just a few wishes made by residents in the hospital unit – a more cheerful version of the ‘bucket list’ idea, which is based on the village’s five pillars – living, resting, eating, moving and thinking well.

Nancy Sharp has a picture of the Tararuas hanging in her room, alongside Sir Edmund Hilary’s autograph and a photo of her trip to the Mt Everest basecamp, and last week the 86-year-old got to fly over the Tararuas where she frequently tramped with her late husband, John.

A descendent of Masterton’s founder Joseph Masters, Nancy has a long history with the ranges, with her grandfather naming Bannister Ridge. She spent 15 years as a search and rescue volunteer with her husband, with the pair also made honorary DOC rangers.

The flight took in all her favourite huts, including a brief stopover at Cattle Ridge and a flyover of Powell Hut, which is being refurbished.

She said they “hadn’t changed much” since she was last up in the 1990s, though the aerial route made the trip a little easier.

“We were so fit then that it wasn’t as hard as it looked from the helicopter,” she said.

The wishing tree programme has been active for the past few months, run by diversional therapist and wishgiver Debbie Laird.

Debbie said it was about empowering the residents and giving them a choice.

“The pillars are about engaging the residents – keeping them stimulated and engaged.

“The gentleman we took to the beach said he wanted to feel his feet in the sand again.”

Hospital residents simply post their wish on the tree for Debbie and colleague Nicky Hunt to make a reality – the hospital covers the cost of mobility and staffing, but residents pay for the experience themselves.

“It’s about trying to activate what their wish is – recognising they have a life and a past,” Debbie said.