Two Moree health students have been given a financial boost to help them complete their studies.
Liam Winter and Claudia Adams were named the Dr William Hunter Scholarship recipients for 2020, at a special presentation at Moree Town and Country Club on Friday, November 29.
Paramedic student Liam, who has just finished his second year of his degree with the University of Southern Queensland, will receive $5,000 to go towards the cost of his studies next year.
"I was pretty ecstatic when I found out," he said.
"I wasn't expecting it. I thought I'd just give it a crack, but to get it is even better."
Liam said the money will be used to make life a little easier during his placements next year.
"Placement is the biggest cost; it cost $3000 for an apartment in Mackay for five weeks during my placement this year," he said.
"This lot of money means I can now afford to not have to work, study and do placement which is the equivalent of three jobs - it was hard enough the last two times."
Growing up on a property in Moree, Liam knows all too well how vital medical services are in a small town, having had a few close calls himself, which is what inspired him to consider a career as a paramedic.
"I would visit any medical service in town about once a month, so I was fortunate to see that what they did was so critical; in my situation I might not be walking today or it might have changed my life significantly if it wasn't for them," he said.
"I'm very grateful to them and want to give back."
Meanwhile Claudia, who also grew up in Moree, will receive $3000 to help her complete her pharmacy degree through the University of New England. She has just finished her second year of the four-year degree and, like Liam, said the money will be of particular help during placements.
"It'll help a lot in terms of accommodation and travelling, even fuel," she said.
"There are a lot of placements, so this will mean I can just think about doing my placement rather than how I'm going to afford it."
Claudia said she wants to be a pharmacist to be able to help people.
"In pharmacy, like being a doctor, you need a wide range of knowledge; people often come to a pharmacist as a first point of call, so you can always help people," she said.
The Dr William Hunter scholarship was established by the Barwon Health Alliance in 2004, coinciding with the retirement of Dr Hunter, a rural GP and surgeon who served the Moree district for more than 40 years.
The scholarship aims to support students studying medicine, allied health and nursing from the Moree Plains, Warialda, Bingara or Collarenebri districts.
"The idea is to help people in our rural area, hoping they'll come back at the end of their degree," Dr Hunter explained.
"People who grow up in the country often end up coming back to the country."
Since its inception, the scholarship has supported 28 students.
Dr Hunter said he would love to be able to extend the scholarship over two years, but more donors are needed.
Financial donations help fund the scholarship and the Barwon Health Alliance welcomes sponsors who wish to donate money.