Far North Queensland cattle producer and tourism operator, Lyn French, gave Royal Flying Doctor Service patron, Prince Charles, a firsthand understanding of the value of the service when she spoke to him by video link from her remote Georgetown property on Sunday.
The conversation had been scheduled for a month but in one of those twists that happen in the bush, Lyn’s daughter, Kerry-Anne French had been thrown from a horse while mustering at Werrington Station north of Hughenden that morning and was being flown by the RFDS to Townsville for treatment just as the Prince of Wales sat down at the Cairns RFDS base to speak with Lyn and her grandson Robert.
To the prince’s question, “has she broken something?”, Lyn responded that they weren’t sure at the time but they were confident she was in the right hands.
They were later advised the injury was most likely a torn muscle and were expecting Kerry-Anne to be released from hospital on Monday morning.
As well as remarking that “they breed them tough out there”, Prince Charles said he was proud to be the patron of the RFDS, which he described as a “remarkable operation”.
It responds to 330,000 calls for help each year.
Every year the @RoyalFlyingDoc touches the lives of 330,000 Australians, including Lyn French from Gilberton. Her daughter was flown out this morning after falling from a horse. HRH Prince Charles and I teleconferenced the French family from Cairns to check in 🛩️🏥 #ruralhealthpic.twitter.com/U5HO1uo4TR— Senator Bridget McKenzie (@senbmckenzie) April 8, 2018
While in Cairns, Charles unveiled the service’s newest aircraft, a 350C Super King Air, named Outback Angel.
Although Prince Charles “didn’t stick to the script”, asking Lyn’s grandson, seven-year-old Robert French Jnr if he had ever been sat on by a cow and recalling the many times he’d fallen off a horse, Lyn was able to share a little more of the importance of the RFDS during the short online conversation.
She had been asked to speak on the importance of telehealth and field days, which Gilberton has hosted for many years, and to talk about the importance of RFDS medical chests to remote living in Australia.
“We’re grateful for the medical chest – it can mean life or death,” she said.
The heir to the throne said he was sorry he didn’t have the time to visit the property, 600km south west of Cairns, to which Lyn responded, there was always next time.
She was excited to hear that staff at the Cairns RFDS base had given the prince a brochure outlining the many pleasures of a few days at the station’s luxury five star retreat.
“It was a real honour to speak with him,” she said.