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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 07:41 GMT
Air ambulance wins council grant
Air ambulance
The service has relied on private donations in the past
An air ambulance service that relies on fundraising has been given a council grant for the first time.

West Berkshire Council has donated 20,000 to the Thames Valley and Chilterns Air Ambulance Trust.

While the council admits the grant is only a "fraction" of the trust's 1m annual costs, it hopes other local authorities will follow its example.

The trust is a charity that has until now been funded entirely by donations from private benefactors.

Financial security

A spokesman for West Berkshire Council said the service was a "vital lifeline" for rural communities in the area.

"Rising fuel costs and the requirement to upgrade to a more modern helicopter are placing extra financial pressures on the trust.

"The council has been able to help for the first time this year.

"Whilst the contribution still only represents a fraction of the ambulance's annual running costs, it is hoped other councils in the Thames Valley will follow this lead to provide real financial security to the vital service," he said.

Stevie Horton, director of fundraising for the trust, said trustees were "extremely grateful".

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