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UK: Actor Sir David Jason becomes Patron of Association of Air Ambulances

10th November 2008 - 16:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Actor Sir David Jason has accepted the role of patron of the Association of Air Ambulances (AAA), the organisation created to represent the UK's 18 independent air ambulance charities and from today the 13 NHS Ambulance Trusts in England, Scotland and Wales. Between them, the 18 charities operate 27 helicopters and have to raise £35 million per annum to operate the aircraft and provide the advanced medical equipment they carry.

Sir David, a keen helicopter pilot himself, has become patron of the AAA after visiting one of England's air ambulance charities, the Norwich-based East Anglian Air Ambulance in August. He was inspired by the dedication of the charity's staff to ensuring the continuation of their life saving service but shocked to discover that none of the air ambulance charities in England and Wales receive any government or National Lottery funding. They are all entirely dependent on fundraising and charitable donations.

Sir David's new role as patron of the AAA was officially announced at the organisation's re-launch meeting in Redditch this afternoon. The AAA exists to provide a forum for its 18 member charities through which they can share best practice and communicate more effectively with their various external stakeholders, including the NHS, government, the various Royal Colleges, the Charity Commission and the aviation authorities.

He comments: "An air ambulance takes off somewhere in the UK every ten minutes. Between them, they attend over 17,500 missions a year. They save many lives and improve the outcome of hundreds of others unfortunate enough to be involved in accidents and medical emergencies. As such, they play a vital role within our emergency response service and I'm delighted to support them, particularly as they receive no government funding.

"I'm looking forward to working with the AAA and getting to know more about these wonderful charities and the work they do in my role as patron."

David Philpott, Chairman of the AAA, said: "Having the support of someone as highly respected as Sir David is a huge boost for all of the air ambulance charities. It takes an enormous amount of effort, not just from our highly skilled clinical staff, but also from the army of fundraisers and volunteers who support them to enable us to provide the high calibre air ambulance service which everyone in England and Wales benefits from.

"Our focus is not just on maintaining the air ambulance service. In fact we're constantly looking for ways in which we can make it even better. But this is proving increasingly challenging given the worsening economic climate. Today's expansion of the AAA will help all the charities work together more effectively and share our experience and knowledge.

"Sir David's involvement will also help us draw more public attention to the vital emergency role we fulfill. It's a privilege to have his support."

 

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