Turf Tavern, Great North Air Ambulance

Great North Air Ambulance Fundraising Day

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On Saturday 12th of October Turf Tavern are holding a Fantastic Fundraising Event for the Great North Air Ambulance Day

Charity Info

The charity’s roots go back to 1991, when the Great North Air Ambulance Service Appeal was launched with the aim of providing the North East of England’s first helicopter air ambulance. It took four years to raise enough money to bring this dream to fruition. This was allowed to happen thanks largely to the support of the Barbour Family Trust, which donated £720,000 over eight years. The first aircraft was bought, and in line with the original plans, the helicopter was the immediately donated to the Northumbria Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

The first helicopter had running costs of £360,000 every year. Unfortunately, donations from the public were not enough to cover this sum, so the decision was taken for the NHS Trust to absorb the costs, with public donations being reserved for the eventual replacement of the aircraft. But it became increasingly apparent that the arrangement was not a sustainable one, and that alternative plans would have to be made if the service were to survive. Spiralling maintenance costs and the relatively low level of public donations were major causes for concern, as was new European law which would render the helicopter obsolete by 2006 at the latest. The money was not there to replace the existing aircraft; it was barely in place to keep it flying.

In 1999 came the first murmurings of a plan that would eventually lead to the saviour of the Great North Air Ambulance Service. Discussions were held to examine the possibility of the charity totally funding the air ambulance operations. For this to work, it would have to raise its fundraising to levels never previously envisaged. To make matters more difficult, the charity had no structure, no staff, and was not well known outside of Northumberland. The challenge was enormous, but the seeds of ambition had been planted.

Since the funding crisis of 2004/05, the charity has not looked back. The service has continued to expand and in 2010 the decision was taken to buy three helicopters in order to ease the financial strain of leasing the aircraft. In March 2010, a deposit was placed on the Guardian of the North helicopter, which arrived in the North-East after undergoing a refit. It was followed in 2011 by the new Pride of Cumbria aircraft, which was stationed at Langwathby, near Penrith. Later the same year, a third helicopter – as yet unnamed – was secured and went to work across the two bases.

Now the work begins on securing the future of these three aircraft and their crew. Although great strides have been taken to safeguard to service, past experience has taught the charity never to take the support of the public for granted. It takes £4m a year to pay for the missions. This is a huge task, but the Great North Air Ambulance Service has never been known to balk at a challenge, and it is unlikely to start now.

Event Details

Jumping on Saturday 12th of October / From 11am to 4pm

Newmarket Rd, Carlisle, Cumbria CA1 1JG

Contact Details

Tel: 01228 515367

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