Air ambulance celebrates 30 years
A Newquay based emergency lifesaving helicopter service celebrated 30 years of serving Cornwall on Thursday.
Cornwall Air Ambulance in Trevithick Downs invited around 200 volunteers, crew, staff, supporters and patients who have been airlifted to attend the celebration in the aircraft hangar. They were joined by the air ambulance’s first pilot, Geoff Newman, and first paramedic, Paul Westaway, who shared their story.
Cornwall Air Ambulance was the first in the UK to go into action and has since inspired 20 other air ambulance services to take flight and save lives by saving time and bringing the A&E to the patient. The emergency service, which is funded by the people of Cornwall, attends around 700 incidents each year and has flown more than 26,300 missions since its launch in 1987.
Geoff said: “I could not understand why there was no air ambulance in the UK when the service was provided in Europe and America.
“It was a dream come true when the idea to create the first air ambulance in the country became a reality. We were able to show Cornwall we could make a difference.
“For the past 30 years, I’ve felt a quiet contentment that the Cornwall Air Ambulance has continued to thrive and inspired other services. It’s not often you get to make a small scratch on the world.
“We’re very, very proud of what we have achieved. We had the good fortune to meet likeminded people. It was meant to be.”
Paul added: “It is not only my life that was changed by the air ambulance, for countless thousands have benefited from the skill of the crews who fly on the helicopters.
“They have also benefited from the sheer speed with which the crews can be delivered to incidents wherever they occur and when necessary, the patients can quickly be flown to an appropriate hospital.”
Paula Martin, CEO at Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, said: “With the foundations laid thanks to two inspirational men who literally got the air ambulance off the ground, we are now looking forward to how we can continue to build an outstanding emergency service.
“This involves investing in next generation aircraft, as well as bringing excellent emergency care to our patients during the critical first hour of their incident. All our fundraising and operational objectives are now geared around bringing A&E to the scene of an incident.”
The celebration was also a chance for Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust to unveil its vision for the future that includes plans to secure the next generation of helicopter in 2019, which will boast night vision and a longer flying capability.
The charity launched its 30 For 30 fundraising appeal, which aims to encourage people to donate regularly to the charity by taking part in themed fundraising around the number 30.
This could be running 30km, volunteer 30 hours of their time or hold a 30p jumble sale.
Cornwall Air Ambulance costs nearly £5 million each year to run, and receives no public sector funding for its day to day running costs.
Sarah Pryce, the chairman at the Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust, said: “It is more crucial than ever that we call on people of Cornwall, businesses and visitors to support our air ambulance.
“Our 30 for 30 fundraising appeal aims to inspire people of all ages to try something fun, new or a bit of challenge to encourage donations during this important year in our history.”
New president Edward Bolitho said: “I’m honoured and delighted to be the president of Cornwall Air Ambulance. I’m not looking to trump what other presidents are doing.
“We are here to salute the remarkable achievements of the organisation. If you asked people where the first air ambulance started in the UK they would probably say London but it was here in Cornwall. But we shouldn’t be surprised because Cornwall is a place of innovation and invention. We should be tremendously proud.”