A high-altitude flight in the skies above Robe has recently ticked off one of the bucket list items of an elderly Mount Gambier resident. Thanks to the cooperation of a local pilot and Limestone Coast Red Cross, Tom Merrivale obtained his wish of flying in a vintage Tiger Moth aircraft.
Limestone Coast Red Cross regional services manager David Walshaw explained the set of circumstances which led to the joy flight. “Tom Merrivale is a delightful 87-year-old gentleman, and he had a dream of going up in a Tiger Moth before he passed on,” Mr Walshaw said. “He attends our Red Cross social outings and every time we went past the Robe airport over the last two years, he told us it was his life-long dream to fly in a Tiger Moth and Red Cross made that dream come to fruition.
“Tom donned the leather flying hat and completed a 20-minute loop the loop and a flight over Robe and still had the smile on his face when he returned to Mount Gambier. “The power of humanity has many forms. “Watching Tom from the hangar were all of the other travellers from both Red Cross buses.”
Mr Walshaw said Red Cross operated a Commonwealth funded social support program to reduce social isolation in the community. “One of the program modules consists of taking people out for day excursions to museums, art galleries, places of public interest or just out for lunch or morning or afternoon teas with like-minded people,” he said. “These trips even extend into Western Victoria to points of interest in Portland for whale watching or to Warrnambool for lunch at the RSL.
“Lots of community groups take advantage of this program and travel monthly with us but individuals can ring, and we will notify them when we have a seat available and we pick them up at their house and drop them back there afterwards for a small fee. “The program is available for over 65’s or over 50 for ATSI clients.
“The buses are out most days of the week and we even have a wheelchair bus to take those non-ambulant clients out as well. “The clients pay for any meals or drinks out of their own pocket. “It is a great way for isolated people to get out and enjoy the company of others.”