Apex Youth

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Have you been to a local fair and been most relieved to see a jumping castle set up to occupy the kids? Relief for you, and relief for the charity Angel Flight. Sandon Apex Club’s newest member Paul Hamilton tells us more.

Who founded the Sandon Apex Club, and why?

Sandon County Apex was founded by The Armidale Apex Club, with Robert Hanna, Bruce Whan and the late Eddie Deuo being the main driving force. Sandon County Apex had its inaugural meeting on the 21 October 1973. The club was formed as the Armidale Apex Club had too many members.

The forming of a second club enabled the members of each club to be more productive, while also enabling more members to join Apex in town, by changing the meeting night. Sandon County Apex had around 14 inaugural members. The Charter dinner was a large event and was held at Austin College, going until 5am the next morning, with approx. 90 in attendance.

When and why did you join the Sandon Apex Club?

I joined Apex because I had acquaintances who were members of the club, and I thought as a member of the community I would like to be putting something back into it.

Apex does a lot for the children in the community, i.e. the jumping castle and fairy floss at the school fetes. We have a yearly kids’ camp for local children, some of whom wouldn’t normally have the chance or the opportunity to attend. I also joined for a little time out for me, but in saying that, I believe my family has also enjoyed the social events that Apex members have organised.

How does your club raise money?

Sandon County Apex raise money by doing the jumping castles and fairy floss at school fetes and social events like Australia Day celebrations and the Greyhounds family days. We also did the jumping castles for Bunnings opening weekend – these are the events we count on to keep the club financially viable.

What current fundraisers are you working on at the moment?

Sandon County Apex are currently working on our Bowls Day, which is the major fundraiser for our Kids’ Camp to the coast.

We found that this event was a more social event than our previous golf days. With bowls we are all together as a community playing the game (some people don’t even know how to play – me in particular), but we do enjoy the laugh while doing something to benefit others, with the support of our sponsors.

What is the club’s involvement with Angel Flight?

Angel Flight was launched in April 2003. Angel Flight co-ordinates non-emergency flights for financially and medically needy people.

All flights are free and assist patients and carers travelling to or from medical facilities anywhere in Australia. Angel Flight pilots donate their time, skills and the bulk of their aircraft costs for each flight. Where Sandon Apex helps out is where, on occasion, inclement weather prevents volunteer pilots from flying patients to their much needed treatment. In these instances, to ensure the patient is looked after, Angel Flight uses donated funds to purchase commercial airline flights for patient and carer.

Tell us more about your kids’ camp?

Apex runs an annual kids’ camp to Scotts Head. We take up to 30-40 kids from our local schools – with the help of the Scotts Head Life Saving Club, who accommodate us for the weekend. We try to make it as memorable as possible for the children.

Over the last couple of camps we have taken the children to the beach for a swim, played footy, built sandcastles, went for walks, which allowed us to see a school of dolphins – all of which, surprisingly, a lot of the children haven’t experienced.

We also take the children iceskating on the Saturday night. The children and the Apex members find this quite amusing, as they learn that iceskating isn’t as easy as it may seem. The jumping castle also comes along for the trip.

How can the locals contribute?

We are currently seeking new members who, like ourselves, would get enjoyment out of putting back into the community in one way or another.

We currently have a number of beneficial sponsors, although we could always do with more.

So, if you have a company or you’re an individual who wants to somehow give back to your community by offering your time, ideas or your donations, we can be contacted by emailing: sandonapex@gmail.com or phone Mark on 0404 562 437.                                    

A memorable experience …

My first kids’ camp would be my most memorable to date, as we debated among ourselves (members of Apex) if we should go (the weather was not very desirable). After many conversations and even more phone calls, we believed the kids would be more disappointed if we didn’t go … so we soldiered on. As we headed down the dreaded Dorrigo Mountains, the rain intensified. We found ourselves, along with 30 odd children, stranded just on the other side of Bellingen, as the road had been cut of with flood waters. By then, the mountains had also been cut off due to landslides.

It was then Brad and I got out of the bus in very heavy rain and directed the bus to a point where we could turn around and head back to Bellingen. So there we were … stranded, no food and not knowing where we would sleep. Some of the children, members and helpers were starting to worry.

With the help of the Bellingen SES, we were allowed to stay at the Scout Hall. Our very good bus driver got us to the Scout Hall safe and sound. With the help of the bus driver’s wife and the children, we got the luggage out of the bus. Mind you, the bus had to park on the road and we had to carry the luggage what seemed a long way in the pouring rain, with children running this way and that. Some of our members and helpers headed back to town on the bus for supplies. We walked into a local Take Away shop and said, “We need food for 40 people.” The look on the shop owner’s face was PRICELESS!

He shut his shop and with Mel’s help, the owner of the shop and I cooked up a storm, cooking everything left in his shop. We returned to the hall with food in hand. The children by then were quite hungry; they ate and chatted about the adventure we were on. We all ate and were happy to see the end of that day. In the morning, the rain had settled some, and with the help of the SES and our amazing bus driver, we were able to push on and head down the back road to the coast. It was there that we started the normal enjoyment of the kids’ camp. Although it was a memorable adventure, I would like it noted that if it looks like raining this year, I will be busy!

Thank you Paul.

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