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Air ambulance emergency funding appeal

The local air ambulance charity has launched an emergency funding appeal after its income nose-dived during the pandemic.

North West Air Ambulance Charity – which opened a shop in Congleton almost immediately before the first lockdown – has launched an emergency fundraising appeal to keep its service going, after losing an estimated £71,000 each month since lockdown number one.

The charity said the crisis had “pushed (it) to the brink”, even though demand for its lifesaving service remained high.

Relying solely on public and corporate support to raise £9.5m year, the amount it takes to remain operational, the service said the pandemic had had “a severe impact” on its organisation, with store closures, cancelled fund-raisers and postponed events causing funds to dip “significantly”.

Former patients, such as Maddy Hubel – who suffered an accident near Congleton and was rescued by the copter – have called for support to ensure the service can survive.

Ms Hubel, (36), of York, was riding at Somerford Park when her horse Holly misjudged a fence and fell on top of her, knocking her unconscious. The North West Air Ambulance crew was alerted, providing advanced medical care at scene before airlifting her to Stoke Royal Hospital for further treatment.

Ms Hubel said: “When I came round, I heard the helicopter on scene, and started insisting that I was fine! I definitely needed their care though, and I can only imagine how much worse my injuries might have been without the air ambulance.

“It’s been a tough few months of recovery, but I’m back in the saddle and I have the crew to thank for that. I will be forever grateful, and I urge others to support the charity’s work, so that the crew can continue to be there for those in need.”

Sarah Naismith, director of income and engagement for the air ambulance, said: “Covid-19 has disrupted everyone’s lives, it’s threatened to grind down our friends in the NHS, and it’s placed financial and operational strain on our charity.

“The crews have continued their lifesaving work every day, supporting the NHS and working side by side with the ambulance service.”

But she added: “The disruption to our fundraising revenues is significant and we don’t take sharing this news lightly. Without funding, we may not be able to continue to make a critical difference to patients like Maddy. For 21 years, we have always been blown away by the generosity of our supporters, and we wouldn’t be here without them.

“With our work at greater risk than ever before, any donations will allow us to continue to reach and treat patients in need and give them the best chance of survival. Help us help people across the North West.

To donate £5 to the charity, text HELPNWAA5 to 70085 or visit nwaa.net/emergencyappeal

• North West Air Ambulance helicopters and rapid response vehicles operate 365 days a year, with specialist doctors and paramedics on board providing pre-hospital care and hospital transfers to patients across the entire North West region each year – an area covering 5,500sqm and more than 8m people. Since it launched in 1999, the charity has been called to more than 22,000 missions across the region, with the service called out an average of seven times a day

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