Fond farewell to local chair
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service would like to recognise the contribution of Max Cathcart as he retires from his two valued positions as Chair of the New England North West (NENW) Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) and the Service’s Board.
Mr Cathcart has dedicated over 22 years with the Service, starting as a consultant in 1997 to bring the helicopter to Tamworth and then becoming part of the inaugural RAC in 2000. In that time he has seen the Westpac Rescue Helicopter evolve into the vital 24-7 operation we have today.
“We started in Tamworth with a couple of pilots and an aircraft in the corner of a hangar at British Aerospace Engineering (BAE) and today we proudly operate from Tamworth Airport and have a state-of-the-art AW139 aircraft,” Mr Cathcart said.
CEO of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Richard Jones said that Max has been integral to the development of the Service over years and will be greatly missed.
“Max’s contribution to the Service, particularly in the NENW, cannot be understated. He has spent countless hours volunteering for the Service not just at a Board and Committee level but also at our fundraising events, which says a lot about the great community man he is,” Mr Jones said.
“On behalf of our Staff, Senior Management Team, Board of Directors, RAC, Volunteers and the community, I would like to say a heartfelt thank you.”
Mr Cathcart has over 63 years’ experience in aviation, starting as an apprentice in 1954 with East West Airlines in Tamworth and working his way around the world. In those years he worked in engineering, service appraisal, defect investigation, maintenance coordination, engineering advisory, contract management, supply management, general management and eventually consulting.
In addition to his many aviation roles, Max has also worked heavily in the Tamworth community with roles as the Director of the Chamber of Commerce, Cancer Council and Rotary Club of Tamworth First Light. In his role on the NENW RAC, Max feels the community ownership of the Service is epitomized.
“The RAC is very important on the basis that it covers our operational area and you get that vital input from the communities we service,” he said.
“It gives a broader feeling of belonging to the operation and gives the outer lying areas a voice. It also ensures strong local governance and oversight of the Service’s operations and I am proud of what we have achieved.”
While he doesn’t have a ‘standout’ moment of his time with the Service, he can’t help but smile when he thinks about the day the first Bell 407 arrived into Tamworth.
“The day the aircraft was supposed to arrive we had a big crowd at Tamworth Airport to welcome it. We had media and a band playing and then we received a call to say the aircraft wasn’t coming, because it was snowed in up in the highlands. Luckily we had a big cardboard cut-out of the helicopter here in town so we held that up and celebrated the arrival of the aircraft.”
As he steps down from his roles to enjoy his retirement, Max looks back at his time at the Service with great pride.
“I am proud just to be part of it - I have worked for the Service as a volunteer, supported the bike rides, golf days and thoroughly enjoyed my time spent on the RAC and Board.”
“But I’ve also got so much out of it. I have met so many people who give their heart and soul to their community and they have just been a pleasure to work with and know.”