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Bishop visits new centre

Thursday, 11th March, 2010

* Sir Michael Bishop and Clyde Thomson standing in front of the  sculpture * Sir Michael Bishop and Clyde Thomson standing in front of the sculpture "The Guardian" commissioned by Sir Michael.

One of the Royal Flying Doctor Service's best friends arrived here yesterday to see the day-to-day operation of the Clive Bishop Medical Centre.

Sir Michael Bishop, a founding member of the RFDS UK Friends and former airline owner, donated more than $600,000 through his charitable foundation to help pay for the refurbishment of the Broken Hill RFDS Base. Since it was set up in 2003, RFDS UK Friends has raised over $4 million for the RFDS.

The new medical wing, which was officially opened in April 2009 by NSW Governor Marie Bashir, was named after Sir Michael's father, Clive Bishop, an Australian who fought in World War I. Sir Michael said the new medical centre provided "greater support to the community".

RFDS executive director Clyde Thomson has expressed his gratitude to Sir Michael for his support of the base expansion, which made the project possible. Sir Michael was first introduced to the Flying Doctor in the 1970s, when he met John Connolly, a Broken Hill resident and the first apprentice ever employed by the RFDS.

This sparked his interest in the service and he has been a supporter ever since. Sir Michael said the RFDS gave rural Australians a sense of "confidence in living in the outback" but he was yesterday eager to see a lot more support given to the RFDS. "Having this service takes a lot of money, it needs a consistent source of income...to provide this vital service," he said.

Sir Michael has visited Australia annually for the past 45 years, and last year included being an official guest at the Base opening and the guest speaker at the RFDS AGM. He said it was nice to be back in Broken Hill. "I'm pleased to be back...it looks fantastic," he said.

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