Man in a pink shirt inside an electric vehicle

Tony Wright is proud to serve as a Pink Lady, driving the patient courtesy vehicle at Port Macquarie Base Hospital.

Tony’s tickled pink to give back to his community

May 27, 2024

Well known in local volunteering circles for his work with the surf lifesaving movement and Ironman event, Tony Wright now dons a pink shirt every fortnight with the Pink Ladies, the Port Macquarie branch of the United Hospital Auxiliary (UHA), to give back to his community.

The former school bus driver almost lost his life in March 2017 when a ute struck him while he was cycling on Ocean Drive, just north of Lake Cathie.

Suffering numerous broken bones, lacerations to his entire body, head and internal injuries, Tony was taken to Port Macquarie Base Hospital, then urgently flown to John Hunter Hospital.

He spent the next 10 months in hospital including four weeks in intensive care, six weeks in the trauma unit and several months at the Rankin Park Rehabilitation Centre before returning to Port Macquarie Private Hospital to continue his recovery.

Tony’s mindset and fitness were vital in his recovery. Doctors were astounded by his efforts to get back on his feet spending two hours a day in rehab.

“I just wanted to have a go. I think to get through something like this, you’ve got to want to have a go,” he said.

Coupled with this dedication to his ongoing recovery is Tony’s passion for giving back to the community as a volunteer.

Tony’s UHA volunteering sees him wear a pink shirt every second Thursday morning.

“I love being a member of the Pink Ladies. For me, it’s all about giving back,” he said. “I was lucky enough to encounter the Pink Ladies in Newcastle when I was in hospital at Rankin Park.

“When I came home, I wanted to join to be able to give back to the community. So many people supported our family when I had the accident. I want to support the hospital system and staff who are all wonderful people. I’m so thankful they let me join.”

Tony drives the patient courtesy vehicle, also affectionately known as the Pink Buggy or, in Tony’s words, the Pink Billy Kart. The vehicle helps patients get from the car park to the hospital’s main entrance.

“I enjoy being able to help people. If a kid gets in the billy kart with a broken arm or something, I make a point of talking to them and helping them feel more relaxed about going to the hospital.

“I tell them I spent 10 months in hospital and how wonderful everyone is.”

Tony says volunteering is about giving back, paying forward and encouraging others to get involved. It’s hard to resist his cheery charm.

“I like talking to people and making them feel at ease, whether it’s about going to hospital or at the beach. If they go away with a positive attitude about volunteers and feel uplifted, that’s a bonus, that’s what I love.

“Hopefully, they’ll go on to do the same for someone else.”

Tony is back on local beaches as a surf lifesaver, clocking up almost 30 years of service, and serves as a trainer, assessor and event official. He is also back with Ironman Australia as an advisor.

“To be able to stay involved and keep doing things with surf lifesaving and Ironman is a bonus to me. I’m very social, I love having a chat, connecting with people, and missed being involved when I was in hospital.”

At this year’s Ironman, Tony competed with a mate completing the swim and run legs of the 70.3 event in early May. His friend Nigel Hurlston did the bicycle leg.

“We finished last by about a week and a half, but we got out there and competed and stayed involved in it; staying involved is the main thing,” he said.

If you would like to find out more about the Pink Ladies, email:

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