Chopper rescue crew makes splash for cancer

USUALLY, it's the public raising funds for the Hunter's Westpac rescue helicopter.

But this time the service's employees, together with their emergency services mates and colleagues from other rescue helicopters, are digging deep for one of their own - The Hunter Melanoma Foundation.

A 24-hour paddle on Lake Macquarie has been organised to raise funds for the foundation as well as assisting one of their own to beat the disease.

"This is our way of trying to give something back to the community," long-time crew member Graham Nickisson said. "We are so fortunate that the community has always been behind us, and we really feel that we should return the favour every so often."

More than 100 paddlers will hit the water from 7am next Friday, going around an 8.3 kilometre course from Belmont 16 Footers continuously until 7am the following day. Water police, fire crews, lifeguards, John Hunter Hospital staff and members of other helicopter services will also be there.

The service's Bell 412 machine will be at the 16 Footers during the marathon, with a raffle for four spots to take a ride back to the chopper base at Broadmeadow.

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