I started the Great North Air Ambulance Service in 2001 and I am proud of how far the charity has come since then. It remains in need of help however, and that is why I am writing today.
Recently, we have had to deal with the concerns of dozens of supporters regarding an apparent upturn in the fundraising activity of the Children’s Air Ambulance, which is based in the Midlands.
The Children’s Air Ambulance is a legitimate charity which transfers paediatric patients between hospitals. It has nothing to do with the Great North Air Ambulance Service, which last year treated and airlifted 59 sick or seriously injured children.
It is not for me to tell the public which charities to support; that is a matter for them. However, I do think it is important that people can make an informed decision before they make their donation, especially when it could involve their money flowing out from the North to a charity based in the Midlands.
In order to help them do this, I must make it absolutely clear that we are the only air ambulance based in the North-East. We responded to more than 1,000 call-outs last year alone. Tens of thousands of people have benefitted from the service over the years including many hundreds of children.
We have teams collecting clothing bags in the region, but otherwise we no longer go door-to-door asking for donations or lottery subscriptions. We strongly believe that people should not be pressured into supporting their favourite charities.
We would invite anyone with queries or concerns to contact us on 01325-487263.
Finally, on behalf of everyone at the charity, and the thousands of people we have helped, we would like to thank everyone for their continued support. We couldn’t do it without you.
Grahame Pickering MBE