"Royce's New Year Scare"

In 2021, the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter service was tasked to a record 1,239 missions. In the small hours of New Year’s Day, there wasn’t any time to reflect on that. By 1.32am, crew were tasked to their first mission - to Great Barrier Island.

Long-time supporter Royce Everett would, unfortunately, claim the title of being the service’s first patient of 2022. 

“I’m not particularly proud of that,” he jokes, “but we are very proud to have our name on the chopper.”

The family’s business, Halcyon, has generously supported the charity’s work since 2000. For the past ten years, the lighting company, now run by son Brendan, have donated every year. 

“Everyone has a story about someone they know who has needed the help of a rescue helicopter,” Jenni, Royce’s wife, says, “It helps people from all walks of life. That’s what we love about it.” 

“It is one of the most important sponsorship things we do, “Royce adds, “We joked at fundraising events that one day our family might need it. Ironically, we did!” 

Great Barrier holds a special place for the Everetts. While Royce has been boating there, since he was five, the last five years have involved putting down roots and building a bach on the island. 

“It’s been a lengthy process only made worse by lockdowns. This summer is the first time we’ve been able to really enjoy it,” Royce says.

On the night of Royce’s medical event, he was returning home from a friend’s house where they celebrated the New Year in.

“I kept falling over. The first thing I thought was, ‘I’ve had too much to drink!’” 
 

It was son Brendan who instinctively knew something wasn’t right. While two friends helped Royce down the 800-metre stretch of beach back to the bach, Brendan dialled 111 for help. 

“I was starting to slur my words a bit,” Royce recalls, “I felt I was putting everyone out when I heard the rescue helicopter was on the way which I thought was for no reason… but they did have a reason.” 

Royce having suffered a major stroke in 2017. 

“I was a bit in la-la-land when crew arrived, but Jenni said they were fabulous.”

“I couldn’t fault the service, honestly,” Jenni says, “If they hadn’t offered to take me too, I would have been stranded here.” 

A quick 32-minute flight to Auckland City Hospital, Royce was diagnosed with a TIA - transient ischemic attack. He suffered a temporary period of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. Usually lasting only a few minutes, TIA doesn't cause permanent damage but can point to something more serious. 

Luckily, Royce got the all-clear. With a tick of approval from the heart specialists, the couple were able to get back to their bach in no time. 

The Everetts aren’t into New Year resolutions. They try to live every day to the max. Knowing the service is out there, gives them the confidence to do just that. 

In 2021, ARHT attended 98 missions to Great Barrier Island. A big thank you to Halcyon for your support. To become a major sponsor, please get in touch with our Sponsorship Manager Paul Yates. Click here.

1000+

Missions Every Year

1.5 million

Community Members Supported

Thousands

Of Lives Saved