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Page last updated at 15:18 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Up, up and away for Devon Air Ambulance

Judi Spiers and the team with the Air Ambulance and its new livery
Judi and the team with the Air Ambulance and its new livery

BBC Radio Devon has teamed up with the Devon Air Ambulance Trust to launch the BBC Radio Devon Air Ambulance Appeal.

The aim of the appeal is to raise more than half a million pounds towards the purchase of a brand new helicopter.

The Devon Air Ambulance was launched in 1992, but the story started in 1986 when 18-year-old Ceri Thomas was knocked from his bicycle.

Video: Winter Rescues

A road ambulance took him to hospital where, sadly, he later died of his injuries.

Ceri's mother, Ann, asked the doctors if anything could have been done to save her son.

She was told the quicker a patient receives treatment after an accident, the greater the chance of their survival.

Those few words planted the seed and the start of a mammoth fundraising project to launch Devon's first Air Ambulance in August 1992.

The trust now operates two helicopters, 10 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Between them they can reach 50% of Devon within five minutes, and the remainder within 20.

Devon's extensive road network, the remote countryside and rugged coastline mean precious minutes can be saved by the deployment of the air ambulance to the scene of an accident or medical emergency.

Shep and Jo
Shep and Jo and a pool of Air Ambulance teddies

The BBC Radio Devon Air Ambulance Appeal hopes to raise the rest of the money needed for the charity to be able to place an order for a brand new purpose-built air ambulance in a year's time; some £600,000.

It will replace the current leased helicopter.

Saving lives

The charity decided buying - rather than leasing - a helicopter was a more efficient way of spending the hard-earned funds raised each year.

They bought a Eurocopter EC135 in 2008, replacing the then leased Exeter-based Air Ambulance.

Each year the trust must raise £4 million in order keep the two air ambulances airborne.

The helicopter will operate from the new airbase, just opened at Eaglescott Airfield near Umberleigh.

During the course of the appeal BBC Radio Devon will have unique access to the pilots and paramedics who make a difference to so many lives each week.

Reporters from radio, television and the BBC Devon website will take to the air with the crew on operations to give audiences an incredible insight into the work they do at incidents across the county.

Judi with a cheque for one million pounds
Judi Spiers banks BBC Radio Devon's 1m cheque for a previous appeal

Heléna Holt, chief executive of the Devon Air Ambulance Trust said: ''We are extremely excited to be working in partnership with BBC Radio Devon for the next 12 months.

"This campaign will give a unique insight into not only what the helicopter does, but how the money is raised to keep both helicopters airborne, as well as the people behind making it possible."

Mark Grinnell, BBC Radio Devon's managing editor added: "In 2004, BBC Radio Devon listeners helped the station raise more than £1m for the Chestnut Appeal for Prostate Cancer.

"If our experiences during the Chestnut Appeal are anything to go by, we will be overwhelmed by the generosity and willingness of people to get involved."

How can you help?

If you'd like to make a donation please make cheques payable to the BBC Radio Devon Air Ambulance Appeal.

Alternatively you can make a deposit into the Devon Air Ambulance Trust, BBC Radio Devon Air Ambulance Appeal account at any bank, by quoting account number 90010111 and sort code 40 27 56.

If you would like to find out how we can support your fundraising activities contact the team on 01392 466666.

BBC Radio Devon Air Ambulance Appeal
09 Feb 10 |  TV & Radio
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03 Feb 10 |  TV & Radio
Video: Air Ambulance base opened
03 Feb 10 |  TV & Radio


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