Darby’s chopper drive


A prominent Queenstown developer, almost killed in a skiing accident a year ago, is fundraising for the resort’s rescue chopper service.

John Darby, who broke his femur ploughing into a fence at Cardrona Alpine Resort, was flown by a local Lakes District Air Rescue Trust (LDART) helicopter to Queenstown, then ferried by a Dunedin-based chopper to that city’s main hospital.

“That [second] helicopter has some specialist gear on it, otherwise I would have died,” he says.

Darby says his mission is to help raise money for more specialist gear for LDART.

The trust funds local chopper operators to perform medical evacuations and search and rescues. Darby says he appreciates the vital role the operators play but suggests that one day the trust might have a dedicated machine.

“We’re spoilt with great operators and their existing machines so it’s a matter of just making sure whatever is the optimum is well-funded.”

He’s got cracking on his fundraising mission this week, donating the proceeds from two half-price skiing days on his new Soho Basin ski area, near Cardrona.

The first was this Tuesday, and the second day will be this Sunday - with a day’s skiing/boarding on offer for a discounted $150.

Darby expects the two days will raise about $10,000 for LDART.

He’s planning other fundraising exercises including a golf tournament this summer at Queenstown’s Jack’s Point resort, which he originally developed.

He believes it’s important people appreciate the good work LDART does and its need for funding.

LDART chairman Jules Tapper is delighted to have Darby’s support.

“A lot of people don’t realise that we’re not fully funded.

“We’re having to raise about quarter of a million dollars a year towards the running of the outfit and the training - the training last year, for example, was $50,000, and that’s probably where John’s funding will go towards.”