Rawlinsons donate $1M to STARS during fleet renewal campaign

Gordon and Jill Rawlinson have donated $1 million to STARS as it works to replace its helicopters in western Canada. Gordon said the philanthropists support healthcare because everyone needs it eventually. (Submitted Photo)

Prince Albert native Gordon Rawlinson and his wife Jill are donating $1 million to STARS.

The donation is contributing to STARS’ multi-year plan to replace its helicopters in western Canada.

STARS unveiled the plan in June of last year to replace its fleet with nine new equipped Airbus H145 helicopters, which cost $13 million each.

Gordon, the CEO of Rawlco Radio, and his wife have contributed to several initiatives in Prince Albert, including the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

Jill is originally from Redvers, which Gordon said was their main motivator for donating to STARS. Redvers is a town in southeastern Saskatchewan with a population of about 1,000 people.

With STARS responding to medical emergencies in rural areas, it seemed like the perfect cause.

“She really recognizes the benefits of STARS. Coming from a small town, you don’t have a big hospital or anything,” he said.

STARS is recognizing the donation by changing the name of their equipped motorhome from the STARS’ Mobile Education Unit to the Rawlinson Mobile Education Unit. It’s used to train rural healthcare professionals how to take care of someone until the helicopter gets there.

According to a news release, the unit has helped train over 650 people this past year in Saskatchewan.

Gordon said they requested that the money go towards the Mobile Education Unit, but is confident STARS use will it for what’s best for the non-profit.

Although the couple no longer lives in Saskatchewan, they continue to spend their summers in Waskesiu.

“My heart is in Saskatchewan,” said Gordon. “That’s why we try to give back to it.”

STARS welcomes first of three new helicopters needed in Saskatchewan

Patients, crew, community allies and Premier Scott Moe gathered on Thursday to announce that STARS has welcomed a new helicopter to Saskatchewan.

This is the third new Airbus H145 helicopter in the multi-year campaign, but the first one in the province. It will be located at the STARS base in Saskatoon.

In December of 2018, the province announced its commitment to fund one of three new helicopters needed to operate in Saskatoon and Regina.

In honour of this, the last three letters of the new helicopter’s registration are LLS, which stands for land of the living skies.

“Today is about bringing us one step closer to making our fleet renewal program a reality,” said STARS CEO Andrea Robertson in a news release. “It is also about paying tribute to our community allies who built STARS in this province seven years ago and have sustained it ever since.”

She said STARS is replacing its fleet because most of the helicopter models are not being made anymore and are getting too expensive to maintain.