He doesn’t have wings, but Wakeley residents Dennis Knighton is an angel in every sense of the word.
The 68-year-old is relishing his new role as an Earth Angel for Angel Flight Australia.
In a little under a year he has made 27 trips to various medical facilities in Sydney as part of the charities ethos to help people dealing with the “triple trouble” of bad health, poor finances and daunting distance.
The charity coordinates free non-emergency flights for country people who need to attend medical appointments in the city.
Once they arrive at Mascot or Bankstown airports, they are greeted by an Earth Angel volunteer who take them to places like the Sydney Children's Hospital at Randwick, Ronald McDonald House or The Children’s Hospial at Westmead.
After retiring last July, Mr Knighton joined the fleet of Earth Angel drivers to give back to the community.
“You spend your whole like taking and it’s nice to do something to give back to people,” he said.
“Those people you are giving to really appreciate it. You can tell when you talk to them how grateful they are for the whole of the service.”
Previously in sales, Mr Knighton is used to being out in the field and talking to people.
What he wasn’t prepared for were the gut-wrenching stories about kids and their treatment.
“One of my first jobs I picked a little fella who was three or four and had a brain tumour. He was a beautiful kid with the biggest smile,” he said.
“It broke my heart to hear what he had to go through. It makes you realise how lucky you and your family are to have good health.
“I try to put myself on the other side of the fence, so when people come off a flight, it must be nice to see someone with an Angel Flight shirt to greet you, carry your bags and take you to where you need to go. So that’s what I try to do.
“It makes you feel good knowing you are doing something to help others when they need it.”
Angel Flight chief executive Marjorie Pagani said Earth Angel’s like Mr Knighton play a vital role for Angel Flight Australia.
“It can be a great support to the passenger to have a friendly face waiting to meet them at the airport, saving the passenger the hassle of trying to navigate public transport in a strange city,” she said.
The service was established in 2003 by Bill Bristow and is funded by private donations from individuals, clubs and service clubs, companies and deceased estates.