End of an era for rescue chopper as stalwart flies last shift WELL DONE: Graham Nickisson shakes hands with his colleague of 30 years and close friend Peter Cook. Tuesday is Mr Nickisson’s last aboard the chopper. Picture: Marina Neil

EARLY DAYS: Graham Nickisson with the Surf Live Saving rescue helicopter in 1986. He volunteered with the service for eight years before going full-time.

AT WORK: Mr Nickisson guides the winch, left, his two dogs, top right, and his family, bottom right.

TweetFacebookI watch these people, men and women, day-in and day-out. What they do to save lives would blow your mind.

Graham NickissonNewcastle Heraldarticle about Jenny Walker, who had a dying wish to see her son’s graduation from the Police Academy in Goulburn.

“I went up and met the hospital and said ‘we want to help this woman’,” Mr Nickisson said.

“We were able to fly her to the parade ground with the help of the policeand ambulance [services].

“They flew her back, and then I got a phone call that night from [her husband] who said she’d just died.

“She saw her son and died that night.

“There were a few tears that night let me tell you.”

Theevent typifiesthe service, Mr Nickisson says.

A service which “takes its community very, very seriously and looks after its own wherever it can”.

It is Mr Nickisson’s family, who has look after himover the past few decadesand enabled such a stellar career.

HAPPY DAYS: Nickisson with his two daughters, Jackie and Georgia.

When askedhow important his wife had been to his tenure, Mr Nickisson pauses, before saying“too good”while holding back tears.

He says his two daughters,Georgia andJackie, have been his rock, and his two dogs have helped him through the tough times.

“My girls reckon I love the dogs more than them,” the veteran air-crewmanjoked.

He is also proud of the fact he got to work with his two brothers, who were once aircrew officers.

Mr Nickisson will not be lost to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, with the organisation retaininghimin a promotional role.

The Redhead local’s next mission will be harnessing the financial support of the commercial world and guiding students through the organisation’s role during school visits.

“I can’t speak highly enough about this service and the people that are in it, the people who run it and the people who make it work,” he said.

“It’s anorganisation run by the community, for the community.