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UK: East Anglian Air Ambulance Shortlisted for Major National Charity Award for its Move into Bedfordshire

9th September 2008 - 12:09 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The fundraising team of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) has been shortlisted for a national award for its work to extend the charity’s operations into Bedfordshire in 2007.  The Awards are run by Charity Times, the UK’s leading charity magazine, and the EAAA team is one of three finalists in the category for Fundraising Team of the Year.  The other finalists are Ryde Inshore Rescue and St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London and the Awards will be presented in London on 17 September 2008.

In early 2007, the charity’s fundraising team set itself the target of funding expansion plans which would almost double its costs, taking them to £3 million per annum.  The plans necessitated increased income to enable the charity to take on a second aircraft to provide a dedicated service to Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire, a county which, at that stage, had no access to an air ambulance service.  The charity’s existing aircraft, Anglia One, would then be freed up to provide a dedicated service to Norfolk and Suffolk.

In setting about its task, the EAAA fundraising team employed a range of tactics, including a high profile launch at proving ground Millbrook attended by Bedfordshire’s Lord Lieutenant, MPs and other dignitaries and community leaders.  They implemented a major media relations campaign, identified and lobbied grant-making trusts and built relationships with county groups which tend to be relatively users of the service in other regions eg equestrian groups, farming associations and motor bike clubs.  The charity also launched its Friends of EAAA Lottery into the county.  As an initiative for generating funds, the charity’s lottery is viewed as an example of best practice in its sector and was itself a finalist in the 2007 Third Sector Awards.

The EAAA’s Bedfordshire appeal proved so successful that only four months from the start of the fundraising campaign, the charity was able to bring into service Anglia Two, a dedicated air ambulance covering Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire five days a week.  This was earlier than expected and engineers had to work round the clock to equip the aircraft for active service.  Just over a year on, the aircraft is becoming an increasingly familiar site in the skies over Bedfordshire as it carries out its life-saving work.  It is crewed by clinicians from emergency medical charity Magpas.

Simon Gray, Executive Director of the EAAA, comments:   “It’s fantastic that we’ve been shortlisted for this prestigious award.  As a small charity, virtually doubling our fundraising target was a huge challenge.  The fact that we were able to achieve the sums required from the launch of the Bedfordshire appeal to putting a second air ambulance into service five days a week within four months was a remarkable achievement and exceeded our most optimistic expectations.

“It showed our fundraising team – both staff and volunteers – working together to tackle a new challenge with a huge enthusiasm and dedication.”

The EAAA operates a 365 day life-saving service across Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.  It receives no government or National Lottery funding and has to raise £3 million per year to keep its two air ambulances flying and to provide the advanced medical equipment they carry.  It is entirely dependent on fund-raising and contributions from members of the public. 

The EAAA’s first aircraft, Anglia One, provides a dedicated service to Norfolk and Suffolk while the second, Anglia Two, crewed by clinicians from emergency medical charity Magpas, provides the service for Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  In July 2008, EAAA and Magpas agreed to plan a merger in order to create the most advanced emergency care service in the UK.

For more information, please contact the East Anglian Air Ambulance on 0845 066 9999 or check out www.eaaa.org.uk.

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