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An idea and action from a long taxi ride

By Suzanne Hansen

If you have ridden in our Whiti City Cabs, chances are you will have run into owner/proprietor Phil Butler with his great mountain of hair. The “FRO” look on Phil, stems from a dare from Phil’s son, to grow a “FRO” like he had when he was a lad of 14. It has become a trademark for Phil and a source of interest for Whiti City Cab customers.

It was on such a ride, on a rainy night in July, when Phil, acting in his capacity as backup shuttle for Barrier Air, drove Ruth Young, who is Secretary and Trustee of the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust, home through a stormy journey back home from Auckland. With flooding on Wade Road, they had a lot of time to talk, and they hatched an idea.

Whiti City Phil’s “FRO-MOVAL”

The pair decided that Phil could do a big favour for his passengers, his wife, and the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust and shave off, his mass of hair to raise money for the Trust who are trying to raise $50K to pay for a van to haul equipment around Mercury Bay.Hence, the advent of Whiti City Phil’s “FRO-Moval”, sponsored by The Informer, Barrier Air, Smitty’s and Whiti City Cabs.

The aim of this campaign and event is to not only to make Phil a little tidier but have some fun and create a buzz around the “FRO-Moval” which enhances the generosity of the local community for raising money for the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust. The fund raising is being directly channelled towards raising the necessary finance for the equipment transport van for the Trust. Our target is $35K.

Founded over 30 years ago, the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust is a team of local volunteers who are there to provide logistical and emotional support for those in our community who have received a cancer diagnosis. The Trust is independent of the Cancer Society and funded locally through charitable contributions and fund-raising activities and bequests.  

Sadly, through a change in medical landscape and Mercury Bay demographics over the last few years, the nature of the type of support needed by our local community with cancer, has been moving towards the more palliative (end of life) journey, which the Trust aims to make as special as possible by keeping people at home with attentive and generous care. Hence the need for the transportation and logistics for larger home care equipment to be delivered where and as needed. 

Since 2020 particularly, there have been delays in cancer diagnoses and patients are increasingly being referred for palliative care. Our understanding is that this is a national phenomenon and possibly global as well. Also, in Mercury Bay our age demographic has changed with a much larger number of residents in the 65 – 85 year age group, and because cancer incidence increases with age, more residents can expect a cancer diagnosis into the future. This means, that although the Trust offers support from early diagnosis, when there is often a good outcome following treatment, they are increasingly providing end-of -life care equipment and personnel at the request of health professionals to enable cancer patients to stay at home, and die at home if that is their wish. 

Over the past few years, it has become apparent that the Trust can no longer depend on volunteers’ private vehicles as the equipment comprises items like beds, air mattresses, electric chairs, wheelchairs, wheeled commodes, and sundry patient-care items which are valuable, heavy, and require careful handling during transportation and installation. The Trust now requires a purpose-fit vehicle which allows quick and reliable safe movement of equipment by volunteers, in and out of client premises, and will provide all-weather protection for the valuable equipment.

In short, the new van will enable the safe and dependable delivery of essential equipment to the homes of cancer patients, giving comprehensive support to health professionals, where and when needed, especially but not limited to end-of-life care. This means that cancer patients and their families can be confident that even in the absence of a hospice facility in the Mercury Bay, they can still have quality home-care as they approach the end of their lives.

Of course palliative care is only one dimension of the Trust’s range of services. The Trust offers a customised host of services to cancer patients in all stages of the cancer journey and their support can kick in as soon as a cancer diagnosis is made. They provide a range of practical and emotional support, advocating and facilitating access to relevant services and agencies and even financial support if required. We understand that this charitable service is unique in New Zealand.

Whiti City Phil’s “FRO-Moval” is a fund-raising campaign running from this week through to the official shave off at Smitty’s Bar on the Sunday, 27 November, at 3.00 pm. The Informer, Barrier Air, Smitty’s and of course Whiti City Cabs have all come in as sponsors for the event. Any amount you can donate will be gladly accepted on the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Trust Van Appeal Give-A-Little page., or by EFTPOS at the Mercury Bay Cancer Support Bookstore on Blacksmith Lane and in Whiti City Cab vans. Gold coin(and more) donations can also be made at buckets on all our sponsor premises. Please be generous.


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