Around Townsville they call it the Smurf, a Komatsu excavator that has been painted blue to lift spirits in support a worthy cause — Beyond Blue.

Every hour the machine works, its owner, RMS Engineering and Construction, is donating $2 towards Beyond Blue.

Over a full year, that should amount to more than $6000.

“Beyond the money, the feeling of goodwill it provides to our own staff is substantial, and the visibility of Beyond Blue just might help the community,” Operations manager, Glen Langfeldt, said.

Based in Victoria and fouded by former premier Jeff Kennett in 2000, Beyond Blue has become the country’s foremost non-profit organisation that addresses issues associated with depression, suicide, anxiety and other related mental disorders.

“Often construction guys work away from home for long periods and it’s understandable they get a bit down in the dumps,” Glen said.

“We thought we’d do something positive to show our support.”

RMS operates a fleet of six Komatsu excavators from offices in Townsville and Rockhampton on projects as far flung as East Timor and Vanuatu.

“Recently we brought back three excavators from a Vanuatu project and when it came to freshening them up for work in Far North Queensland, we thought why not take the opportunity to make one of them very special,” Glen said.

A PC88MR-8 with 4500 hours was chosen to become the company’s Beyond Blue ambassador.

“It was quite a job painting it. There was a lot of yellow to cover up,” Glen said.

The result has been a spectacular success and ‘The Smurf’ is hard at work on its first highly visible job on the Bruce Highway, in Bluewater just north of Townsville.

According to Beyond Blue, RMS’s Komatsu is definitely a one-off.

“We’ve had people paint cranes and even trees — and for the trees we had to write a special protocol to make sure they weren’t harmed,” a spokesperson said.

“They all add up to creating a lot of awareness and for that we’re truly grateful.”

RMS engineering and construction staff with their Beyond Blue excavator.

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Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.

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