LCOAL HERO: Larry Ray, from Happy Valley.
LCOAL HERO: Larry Ray, from Happy Valley. Alistair Brightman

From patient to fundraising hero

LARRY Ray has helped raise thousands of dollars for the RACQ LifeFlight rescue helicopter during the past three years to repay a debt of gratitude to the service.

And this year the Fraser Island resident hopes to help raise another $20,000 for the service which he says is close to his heart.

Larry is the chief organiser of the annual Fraser Island Tailor Season Weigh-in, which donates its funds to the charity.

The event was started in 2014 to raise money for local services on the island. But the following year Larry became ill and had to be airlifted from his Happy Valley home to hospital by the RACQ LifeFlight rescue helicopter.

He suffered a suspected mini stroke and, after being assessed by the island's only paramedic, the call went out to the service and the helicopter arrived within 20 minutes to transfer him to the Bundaberg hospital.

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Without the chopper, it would have taken up to two hours for an ambulance to transport him to the barge landing and a further 45-minute boat ride to the mainland.

Larry said his life was saved by the "angles of the sky".

"I have no doubt the level of professional care given to myself is given to all patients that find themselves in a situation where the call goes out for LifeFlight," he said.

"Whether it is inter-hospital transfers or those involved in the many road accidents that have occurred over the past few months ... this is a service that you just never know when they are called to assist you anywhere in Queensland.

"Originally called RACQ CareFlight, the name changed to LifeFlight in 2016 to reflect what they do; and that is saving lives.

"Remember their motto 'the next life we save could be yours', which basically says it all."

Several times a week the helicopter comes to the aid of Fraser Island residents and visitors who are ill or injured, at no cost to the patient.

The emergency response time can be as little as six minutes and there's a critical care doctor, QAS paramedic, pilot and crewman on board every mission.

But each mission costs more than $12,500 - a cost Larry is helping to cover after starting the annual Fraser Island Tailor Season Weigh-In fundraiser.

Based at the Fraser Island Retreat in Happy Valley where Larry and his partner Debbie work, any amateur fisherman who has caught a fresh tailor, dart, whiting or bream, can weigh in their catch daily between 8am and 8pm from August 4 to October 6 for $5 a fish.

There are also raffle tickets available.

Prizes for the competitions include holidays on Fraser Island, 4x4 hire, fishing and camping gear and other equipment, all donated by Fraser Island accommodation and business owners, Hervey Bay businesses, fishing gear suppliers and 4x4 hire companies

Larry said they all came together to donate and raise money for LifeFlight and to give locals and visitors a great experience and a bit of fun with sections for the 'armchair member', the 'comp fisho' and the 'deluxe comp fisho'.

Information about the weigh-in is available at frasertailorweighin.com and facebook.com/FraserIslandRetreat.



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