Far North’s Travel Club: bittersweet end to decades of travel-focused friendship

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Longtime members of the Travel Club at their last Christmas gathering in 2020.

A popular Far North social club has closed after 30 years of bringing together travel enthusiasts across the region.

The Travel Club announced it was ending a few weeks ago and in doing so would support the local rescue helicopter by donating its remaining $7,600 in funds to the Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST).

Peter Hartnall, past club president, said the club has been running for as many years as members can remember, with a focus on sharing experiences, memories, photographs, videos, stories and anecdotes by anyone who loves to travel.

Hartnall said the club was aimed at active travelers and wheelchair travellers, with monthly meetings held at various venues over the years, but always including a meal, a quiz about the country or destination for the evening and the inevitable bar.

Members hailed from as far away as Kaitaia, Paihia, the Hokianga, East Coast, Kaeo, Kerikeri, Kaikohe and almost everywhere in between.

“Over time, members moved or died, and locations changed for various reasons, and so our numbers slowly declined,” Hartnall said.

“Then the club was hit with one of our latest venue losses due to the closure of the RSA in Kerikeri, and finally frequent cancellations due to Covid restrictions.

“So at our general meeting at the end of 2021, the remaining members of the club voted, sadly but with resignation, that the club should close.”

Hartnall said it was decided the funds should be donated to a charity or organization that would benefit a large part of Northland, rather than a particular town or national organisation.

The club also wanted to reflect the geographical distribution of its members, so it was agreed that a donation of $7601.72 would be made to NEST to support the rescue helicopter.

“Who knew who would benefit from the rescue helicopter, but it was agreed that this form of travel could save lives,” Hartnall said.

“Members are sad that the club had to close, but happy that a worthwhile cause has benefited from the donation of all remaining club funds.”

NEST is a charitable trust established to provide a dedicated emergency rescue helicopter service to the people of Northland.

The trust is supported by contributions from local sponsors, individuals, families, businesses and organizations.

NEST’s fundraising and marketing manager, Sarah Birch, said the organization is extremely grateful for the generosity of the BOI Travel Club and the wider Northland community.

“2021 was the busiest year on record for Northland Rescue Helicopters with 1,289 mission calls and we have already transported over 240 patients so far in 2022,” Birch said.

“We couldn’t meet the growing demand for our service without the support of community groups like the BOI Travel Club.

“Their donation helps us ensure that our helicopters, pilots and medical teams are equipped to provide the best possible care to everyone we transport.”

To donate or find out more about NEST, go to: nest.org.nz/

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