The indoor transport fleet at the Bellinger River District Hospital has increased by 50 per cent with the donation of three wheelchairs by local freemasons.
Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (and MP for Coffs Harbour) Andrew Fraser was on hand for the handover, as was The Most Worshipful Master of Lodge The Raleigh, John Bertram.
Funds to purchase the chairs, which cost in excess of $600 each, was raised by local members matched dollar for dollar from Masonicare, the official charity of NSW and ACT Freemasons.
Mr Fraser, who has been chair of Masonicare for the last six years, said the Coffs Coast Freemasons were most proactive group of masons in the state in seeking matching funds for charitable projects.
“I’ve felt very embarrassed because it comes up on my sheet and it’s got Coffs Coast Freemasons, Coffs Coast Freemasons, Lodge Epping, Coffs Coast Freemasons. They think I’m dudding the books but I’m not. It’s just the hard work these blokes do up here,” he said.
Good works recently have included replacing a broken organ for a 13-year-old girl, allowing her to go on and compete in the eisteddfod; donating light towers for the SES to illuminate large areas at night; and putting the power on at the Bellingen Men’s Shed.
Danny Passfield, Acting Executive Officer Director of Nursing, said the three new wheelchairs were a hugely welcome addition, and being branded with the name of the hospital and the name of the donor organisation meant they were less likely to stray.
“They’re a lightweight, very comfortable, safe sort of wheelchair that can take up to 120kg,” he said. “And with the hospital’s name on the back, it will be very hard for them to disappear into the community.”