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Angel of the skies

Bringing the new heli home to Cornwall.

It’s been just over three months since the end of Cornwall Air Ambulance’s New Heli Appeal, a public campaign that successfully raised over £2.5m towards the new air ambulance helicopter. But the mission hasn’t stopped there. The charity is a lifesaver for residents and visitors to the county, providing essential critical care to the most sick and injured patients.

Reaching over 1,000 adults and children every year, and with no government funding towards running costs, the charity relies on fundraising to keep the air ambulance flying. Barbara Sharples, trustee and chair of the New Heli Appeal Board, is proud of what has been achieved: “It has been an honour and a privilege to lead this appeal. The amount raised is testament to how much the county cherishes this charity. It has been an amazing journey.” The journey to selecting the new helicopter began back in 2012, and Cornwall is now the proud owner of an AW169 air ambulance helicopter. This next generation of helicopter is faster, more powerful and capable of reaching even more people in their hour of need.

Air Operations Officer, Steve Garvey, explains the difference the new aircraft will make to the service the critical care team can provide. “We had one priority in mind when we were looking at bringing a new air ambulance to Cornwall – it must help us improve the care we give to patients. Part of this means having the ability to carry more medical equipment so we can make more lifesaving interventions. The extra power of the AW169 will allow us to do this. The AW169 also gives our team 360-degree access to the patient with a stretcher down the middle, whereas in our current aircraft we can only treat them from one side. It may sound simple, but having the extra space to allow two crew members to work on a patient will greatly improve the care we can give.”

Life has changed significantly for everyone in the last couple of months. Our whole way of life has been turned upside down. But one thing that hasn’t changed is the impact of fundraising support for the charity. The Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, like every other charity, is facing unprecedented challenges. With a predicted loss of income of around £1.5million, due to charity shop closures, cancellation of fundraising events and a loss of income from the tourism sector, the charity is now appealing for urgent support. Steve Garvey sums up: “We don’t want anyone to be left behind because of the knock-on impact of this pandemic. We have a brand-new aircraft, with increased capabilities, and we want to make sure we can continue to use it to its full potential.”


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