Great North Air Ambulance, August 07, 2014 - by Claire Herworth - Today the Pride of Cumbria air ambulance celebrated a decade in action!
Ten years on from flying into the county for the first time, the aircraft landed at Armathwaite Hall, near Keswick, where it was greeted by a crowd of staff, former patients, and volunteers.
The aircraft, based at Langwathby, near Penrith, began work in August 2004 and has since flown 4,500 missions across Cumbria.
Chief executive, Grahame Pickering, said: “It has never been easy. It was a battle setting it up and it remains a battle to keep enough money coming in.
“It is clear now though that this service is needed. There are thousands of people out there who would testify to that from personal experience.
“We are always looking for ways to improve and expand the service, provided the money is there to support it.
“We’d like to thank everyone who has ever supported us in any way. Every contribution, from the loose change to the substantial gifts left in people’s wills, it all makes a difference.
“Anyone who has ever donated should take great pride every time they see the green and white aircraft flying overhead, because that is where their money is going.”
Last financial year, the Pride of Cumbria was activated 482 times, almost half of GNAAS’ total missions flown. The charity estimates each mission costs around £2,500 in aircraft and fuel costs, staffing, equipment and drugs.
Mr Pickering said the charity had recently seen an upturn in volunteer numbers in Cumbria, but hoped to enlist more people to help raise money to support the aircraft.
“We have opportunities for volunteers right across the county and we would love to hear from anyone wishing to get involved,” he added.
To mark the occasion, and give a boost to finances, the Great North Air Ambulance Service has produced a limited edition Pride of Cumbria bear, which it is selling at events and through its website shop. The bears cost £10 and are strictly limited to 1,000.