Locals go the distance again to help Royal Flying Doctor Service

Campbell WilliamsonAlbany Advertiser
Kenny McGonnell, Don McTaggert, Keith King, Kristin Small, Jayne McTaggert, David Flick and Peter Masson.
Camera IconKenny McGonnell, Don McTaggert, Keith King, Kristin Small, Jayne McTaggert, David Flick and Peter Masson. Credit: Jess Curran./Jess Curran.

Raising more than $80,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Albany Gibbsters have more than answered The Gibb Challenge.

The challenge asks teams to compete in a 660km relay cycling challenge while raising much-needed funds for the RFDS, helping them continue their work supporting more than 27,000 West Australians each year.

But for many riders, like team captain Don Perfrement, the organisation also holds personal significance.

“We’re very much committed to supporting the Flying Doctor because everyone in that 17 have had some sort of contact with them,” Mr Perfrement said.

“My granddaughter got flown to Perth only a month ago with the flying doctor service, and my business partner. It’s something close for so many people, that’s why we do it.”

Spanning five days, the Gibb River Road takes bikers over the gravel, dirt and water of the Kimberley, from Derby to the El Questro Wilderness Park.

The Albany Gibsters.
Camera IconThe Albany Gibsters. Credit: Jess Curran./Jess Curran.

“It’s dusty, corrugated and quite warm ... there are some ripper hills and they’re dirt but the beauty of that is that for every up there’s a down,” Mr Perfrement said.

“The lucky ones get the down.”

Since first competing with a team of four in 2016, the Gibbsters numbers have ballooned to 17.

The Albany team contributed more than $80,000 to the almost $600,000 raised across all teams.

Preparation for this year’s challenge started over a year ago with sausage sizzles and raffles carried out ahead of the big ride.

But Mr Perfrement said that preparation was part of what he loved about it.

“To be quite honest that’s part of the fun, we do enjoy doing all that,” he said.

“It’s a real community thing ... people see what you’re doing and take notice of what’s happening and they can see that you’re really putting an effort into helping the Flying Doctor.

“The people that take the time to throw their change, or put money in our tins, or buy our sausages, they’re the ones we really need to thank.

“All of us who’ve been friends in Albany for years are just that little bit closer because of it.”

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