Page last updated at 13:45 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 14:45 UK

NI air ambulance charity 'grounded'

An air ambulance charity that collected more than £750,000 has been wound up without ever landing a helicopter.

It said it is reforming in another guise with new personnel and will continue to raise money.

The chief executive of the Charities Commission has welcomed the move.

Last year, a BBC investigation revealed that 90% of the money collected by the Ireland Air Ambulance Charity in its first year went on wages and overheads.

Its recent accounts show it has only £65,000 left out of almost £700,000 collected over the past two years.

It now says that the association known as Ireland Air Ambulance has been dissolved.

The existing trustees and some of the staff have been stood down and a new company has been formed which will retain the old name.

The chief executive of the Charities Commission, Frances McCandless, said the charity has changed from being an unincorporated organisation to being a company limited by guarantee, which she said is "a good thing."

"It means the organisation submits details of its directors and accounts to Companies House and they are available for public scrutiny.

"We have met over the past few months with Ireland Air Ambulance following concerns that had been raised by the media.

"We have given them advice and we have pointed out what would be best practice."

Dissolution

In the 12 months up until 2009, the accounts show the organisation raised £479,000, and spent £387,265 most of it on what are described as "charitable purposes." Most of this expenditure went on staff and fundraising.

Nick Taylor, a business advisor for the newly constituted charity said the association known as the Ireland Air Ambulance has gone through the formal process of dissolution.

Its existing trustees, director, and some employees have all stood down, he said.

According to Mr Taylor, the charity is now being run by a new board of eight directors drawn from the business community who want to move the aims of the charity forward.

A new interim chief executive has been appointed.

He said all the assets of the IAA will be transferred to a new company which will retain the name Ireland Air Ambulance.

He said he is unable to say how much this is likely to be, but it is thought its could be less than £65,000 pounds - a small fraction of the total money raised.



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