In June, Magpas Air Ambulance launched a two-year appeal to raise £1.5 million to bring a new state of the art helicopter to the region. The new aircraft will be able to fly further, faster and allow the lifesaving service to reach an even greater number of patients in life-threatening medical emergencies. Since then, the charity has worked hard to turn this exciting new venture into reality, thanks to generous public donations and pledges. Magpas Air Ambulance continues to fundraise for the ongoing operational costs of the new aircraft but the support to date has helped the charity move to the exciting next phase of the project.
The production of Magpas' new AugustaWestland 169 (AW169) began in the vast factory warehouse of Leonardo on the outskirts of Milan as just a shell, with different parts of the helicopter being manufactured and shipped from countries all over the world. The initial assembly process took several weeks, culminating in transforming it from a plain white exterior to the recognisable orange, white and green of the Magpas Air Ambulance brand. Now it looks the part on outside – the next mission for Magpas is to fit the inside.
This December, the new Magpas Air Ambulance will fly to Gloucester Airport, where its bespoke medical interior will be fitted. This is when the new aircraft becomes more than just a helicopter and transforms into a state of the art air ambulance. The charity's Medical Director, Dr Simon Lewis, explains, "This new aircraft will provide Magpas Air Ambulance with the most technologically advanced features and medical equipment, better enabling the Magpas medical team to respond to our patients in their moment of need."
Fern and her mum Clare know first-hand the vital difference the new helicopter will make. Fern was just 6 when she was seriously injured when she fell from a horse, miles from the nearest help. The Magpas Air Ambulance medical team were able to fly to Fern and provide her with expert medical care at the scene of her incident, before airlifting her to hospital. Fortunately, Clare was also able to travel with them so she could stay by her daughter's side the whole time. Having the ability to always carry a loved one is a key benefit of the new aircraft which is 50% bigger than Magpas' current model.
Clare explains, "I know how important it was to be by my daughter's side, at a really frightening time, when Magpas Air Ambulance flew her to the hospital for critical treatment. With the new helicopter, this could be the reality for every mum and dad when they need Magpas air Ambulance in Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Peterborough and beyond."
Lucy Chapman, Magpas Air Ambulance's Director of Fundraising says "I'm lucky enough to see the difference Magpas Air Ambulance makes to families across our region every day. The new helicopter will give us the potential to reach even more patients, save more lives and keep more families together but it will also cost us more to operate. We now have a helicopter but the important bit, actually turning it into an fully operating air ambulance, is yet to come and we need your help to do that. So please support the Further, Faster, Greater appeal with a donation today and help bring a new, next generation air ambulance to your community – there is no better time to support!"
Support the Further, Faster, Greater Appeal for a new Magpas Air Ambulance here, or text HELI19 £5 or £10 to 70070.