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15 May, 2022

Going above and beyond to save lives

FROM transporting patients to their specialist appointments, reuniting family and donating goods and services during times of crisis, CEO and director of Angel Flights Marjorie Pangani has done it all from the good of her heart.

By Ellie Fink

FROM transporting patients to their specialist appointments, reuniting family and donating goods and services during times of crisis, CEO and director of Angel Flights Marjorie Pangani has done it all from the good of her heart. 

Since being founded in 2003, Angel Flights is a charity chartering non-emergency medical flights across the country from rural towns to the big smokes. After volunteering as an aviation barrister and as a pilot, she took on the role of CEO in 2005 after founder and former CEO Bill Bristow AM convinced her to take the next step up.

“After a few years he fell ill and asked me to take over,” Marjorie said. “I was reluctant to, but I agreed to do it for a year – that was in 2005 and I am still here working with a great group of volunteers both in the air and on the ground.” 

Since being in her position, Marjorie has flown across the country to all parts of the bush and city to help almost 20 people a day, free of charge. She recalls some incredible charters in recent events, as the impacts of Covid and flooding affected families across the country. 

One of her biggest calls yet being asked to reunite a three-year-old boy and his mother during strict border closures. “In this Covid world we have been doing a lot of compassionate flying, we had young Memphis who was stuck in New South Wales come up to the coast and to get in, we had pilots being sterilised and waiting in small border towns,” she said. “We bought Mum down to Archerfield, police were present and the little three-year-old got out of the plane, spotted mum and ran straight into her arms. “Then we took Memphis and his mum back up to the north coast.” 

More recently, Marjorie has found herself in the midst of the floodwaters in Lismore, with a weekend long operation taking place to deliver 12 tonnes worth of donated food and other basics to victims and their families. After hearing of the tragedy of the floods, she quickly picked up the phone and dialled any volunteer pilot she could find to help. 

“On Friday night I was on the phone talking to pilots and by Monday morning I had twelve aircraft at Bankstown and Archerfield and 12 tonnes of donated supplies ready for take-off,” “On Tuesday morning, we flew a convey into Bellara and had arranged to send off a convoy of Utes to unload the donated supplies from the helicopters and aircrafts and distribute them. “We had an RSL donate a caravan which we drove up for a family who needed it desperately, they donated $6000 worth of groceries which a pilot went out and bought and distributed. “That all took me from Friday night to Monday morning to pull together and that was all thanks to the volunteers on sight.” 

Reuniting families is something Marjorie finds most impacting in her role, with patients at the end of life requesting their place of death or family wishing to farewell their loved ones. 

She expressed how compassionate those moments were to her patients and recalls the story of a woman who was flown by Angel Flights to see her mother who was almost at her last breath. “She said to me that her mother was told she was coming to see her and waited until she was there,” she said. “That lady was able to see her mother in her final two minutes because Angel Flights was able to get her out there.” 

Families are who Marjorie finds herself working with, transporting not only the patient but their loved one’s miles across the country in order to keep family life as simple as possible in difficult times. Those who have travelled with Angel Flights have come back to her thanking her for the kindness and compassion for the work she has done, and Marjorie believes her role helps her thrive as a person. 

If you would like to utilise Angel Flights, contact your GP and ask them to register via https://www.angelflight. org.au

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