Karleigh pays it forward

Karleigh Moir was only six years old when the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter flew her into Wellington Hospital’s intensive care unit.

The life-saving mission ensured that her devastating injuries – two broken femurs, two broken arms and a broken collarbone – were treated as quickly as possible.

Fast forward seven years, and the now 13-year-old Karleigh has given back to the service that saved her life, hosting a community raffle on Saturday night.

Alongside crewman Ed Garvey and pilot Craig Chaplin, Karleigh visited the hangar to hand over a cheque donation of $1,346.00 from around 550 tickets that were sold.

It’s an initiative that her mum – Robyn Moir – couldn’t be prouder of.

“For someone so young to come up with this idea and know what she wants to do, shows a bit of her stubborn streak,” said Robyn, stifling a laugh. “But the idea came from her. I can’t stress that enough. I asked her, ‘what do you think we could do?’ and she came up with the raffle.”

“She was excited watching the amount go up, and even said to me ‘the more the better aye mum!’, which I had to agree with.”

Karleigh’s mum isn’t the only one that’s impressed; Fergus McLachlan said that the raffle idea was a “great example of the community spirit of Taranaki”.

“For someone so young to take it upon themselves to raise funds for the Rescue Helicopter, it really shows how much the community cares about the service we provide,” he added.

The Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust have acknowledged the financial challenges that many people are facing post-coronavirus, but they express their gratitude to the community who continue to support the rescue helicopter operation.

Karleigh is still proud to be associated with the Rescue Helicopter, despite the seven years that have passed since the rescue service saved her life.

It was at the Trust’s Open Day in January this year where the raffle idea was first hatched, and after some back and forth – the idea finally took shape.

At only 13, Karleigh needed her mum’s help to guide the idea and promote the raffle. Robyn used her Facebook page as a platform for the raffle, and Karleigh put together the wording. The Taranaki teenager was reluctant to put herself out there too much, but eventually Robyn coaxed her into putting photos of herself into the posts too.

“Karleigh thought of who she could approach, and went to a family friend with a stack of firewood. They were only too happy to oblige,” says Robyn, “then she asked around a few people to help with the hamper, I had to top it up with a bit”.

Before the raffle went ahead, Karleigh came home from boarding school for the weekend, and was excited to see the responses from people, as well as the money that had been deposited into the account set up by Robyn.

“The support from the community has been overwhelming. Covid hasn’t dampened people’s enthusiasm and they are still willing to help out.”

That sense of community has been strong, with many rallying around the family in the aftermath of her 2013 accident.

“I guess people can relate to why it’s so special to Karleigh, and why she carries the Rescue Helicopter close to her heart. We must be in the flight path over Waverley South, every time the helicopter flies overhead she immediately knows and makes the connection.”

Karleigh’s experiences have given her a strong desire to help people. In fact, she’s pretty keen to make it her life’s work. “It’s a long way off, but she wanted to be a paediatric nurse for a while. Recently, she’s been talking about wanting to be a paramedic working in the helicopter.”

Karleigh’s fully recovered from her accident and is back into the swing of normal life. She’s currently attending boarding school, and heads back home to her family’s Taranaki farm whenever she can.

She’s also picked up a love of the outdoors, thanks to her father Craig. Together, they’ve already completed two of New Zealand’s Great Walks – the Abel Tasman Coast Track and Tongariro Northern Circuit – and they aim to walk the Heaphy Track in the South Island next year.