Anne welcomes new air ambulance

November 26 2014

A DOWNEND woman has welcomed the new air ambulance after fundraising to support the charity behind the service.

anne newbury

A DOWNEND woman has welcomed the new air ambulance after fundraising to support the charity behind the service.

Anne Newbery watched with joy as the state-of-the-art Eurocopter 135 was revealed under floodlights at its launch night on November 5.

Along with husband Andrew, Anne has been raising money for the Filton-based Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) for around 18 months.

The couple were spurred into action following a horse riding accident where Anne’s god-daughter had to be rescued by the air ambulance.

They came up with the idea of raising money through pub quiz nights and became involved in the  charity’s Movin’ On Up campaign to raise £250,000 towards replacing the Bölkow 105 helicopter with a new Eurocopter.

Anne, 48 said: “It was a lovely moonlit night and the sponsors had organised fireworks. But the loveliest thing to see was the shiny new helicopter.

“Our local pubs and their customers have been fantastic as they have supported the quiz nights to raise much needed money for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity and their helicopter appeal.”

Since the end of 2012 the couple, who run Downend-based Panda Electric Services, have been busy writing and hosting quiz nights under the name of Finish First Quizzes at various pubs and social clubs in the area.

Money is raised via collection tins and many winning teams donate their prize money to GWAAC.

The couple’s fundraising drive for the charity will continue as the arrival of the new leased helicopter means that the annual revenue needed in 2015 will rise from £1.5 million to £2 million.

The new EC 135 will include an extra seat, meaning that if a child is airlifted, a parent can come with them. This extra seat will also allow the training of new paramedics and doctors. The EC 135 is also side loading, which makes the loading of patients easier and quicker.

Critical care paramedic John Wood, the clinical lead for the team, said: “The new helicopter will mean a great deal to the people in the region we cover.

“One of the major advantages is that we will now be able to land on the BRI helipad, without having to land on the Downs and make the transfer in by land ambulance. This will make a big time saving.”

GWAAC chief executive John Christensen said: “The arrival of our new helicopter is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. It is a fantastic gain for the people in the region, who paid for it with their charitable donations. The challenge now comes to keep it going, we need support to keep it in the air”.

The GWAAC had, until now, been the last air ambulance charity in the UK to rely on an aircraft which was designed in the 1960s.

At the time, the vehicle was considered state-of-the-art but technology has moved on and it became too small, slow and less secure than modern helicopters.

The Eurocopter EC 135 is bigger and more flexible but, more importantly, will enable the emergency team to reach patients more quickly.

The charity receives no funding from the Government or the National Lottery, which means it relies entirely on the generosity of the people they serve to continue operating.

People can donate via the GWAAC website, or by texting HELI13 £2 (or any amount) to 70070.

Quiz night venues for December will be the Horseshoe and the Trident, please contact Anne or Andrew on 07904 500879 or email for details.