Experiencing a simulated emergency flight, staging a concert and giving a substantial donation was all part of the fun for a group of students from the heart of Sydney who visited Dubbo this week.
The International Grammar School musicians arrived with instruments in hand as part of their Regional NSW Music Tour, which kicked off on the weekend.
On Monday, they performed a special concert at the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) headquarters, undertook an education session guided by the staff and presented funds of almost $2000 for the much-needed service which provides medical assistance for residents in rural and remote areas.
“They are based in Ultimo,” RFDS Visitor Experience, Marketing and Education Officer Penny Watts explained. “They have been doing fundraising and sought us out.”
Describing it as “the most amazing support”, Penny said the school’s attitude shows that the Flying Doctors has extended far beyond its rural and remote operation.
“They are not only raising money, they are actually educating these kids in city schools of the Flying Doctor’s services.
“A lot of people may have heard of the RFDS as an emergency retrieval, but now we have expanded to patient transfers, road transport, a dental program, regular clinics, teleconferencing and mental health assistance. There’s a lot of people out there that don’t know the scope of what we do.”
The students, who range from Year 5 to Year 10, also received a unique experience as part of the visit.
“We have a mobile education unit that has aeronautical features and simulates the plane,” Penny said.
“It gives you a feeling of what it’s like in a Royal Flying Doctor aircraft without actually being a patient.”
Dubbo is a working base so there were also staff on hand to meet with the children and tell them more about the service and their roles.
The school’s deputy principal David Hamper organised the trip and said the main aims were to expose the students to remote locations and to give some money to a service which helps those communities.
“We’ve raised just under $2000 with the hope of raising more,” he said.
“Our school is in a five-storey building in Ultimo. The main thing is that while a lot of our kids are quite well-travelled – they have been overseas – but not so much inland Australia.
The trip takes in Parkes, Lightning Ridge, Bourke and Tamworth along with Dubbo.
“For us, it’s a chance to give them that insight into these places. Wherever we take the kids on a trip is a privilege.
“We wanted to provide something for the local community and the Flying Doctors was a logical organisation to support.
“We looked for an organisation that was benefiting local communities and that would have a strong presence in the communities we are visiting. It’s about something that’s a quintessential part of rural and regional Australia.”
The musical element of the trip includes musical performances by the 45 travelling students who have been practicing since mid-2017. Itinerary planning started a year ago.
“There’s a broad range of kids and instruments,” David explained. “It’s a full concert band orchestra with wind, string, percussion.”
The International Grammar School is a multicultural and multilingual school where a quarter of learning is in a foreign language. But the trip to regional Australia might just be a whole new learning curve.