STAFF and students at a Northumberland school have been visited by the air ambulance they have worked tirelessly to support.
Ponteland High School has been raising money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) in memory of former student Rachel Blaylock.
Rachel died in a car crash in 2014. Her death prompted a fundraising campaign, with 40 staff and students running the 2015 Great North Run in aid of GNAAS.
An original fundraising goal of £10,000 was soon surpassed and today members of the running group handed over £16,005 to the charity when the helicopter touched down on the school playing fields.
PE teacher Gordon Grier has been the driving force behind the fundraising campaign.
“It has surpassed all expectations,” he said. “The range of emotions since we got the places has been enormous.
“We were really nervous at the beginning, thinking we couldn’t hit our target of £10,000. It seemed a mountain to climb.”
“We felt relief but above all we were so proud and humbled by the lengths people had gone to to help.
“It was something really tragic that started this off. We wanted to do something positive in the name of a former student who represented everything we have done. We were fighting for a cause we believe in, we wanted to bring people together, and we were passionate about doing it. That’s what Rachel was all about.”
Liam Martin, of GNAAS, said the money would be spent on providing life-saving care in the region.
He added: “The school should be so proud of what they have achieved. It was clear from the outset that they were all pulling in the same direction in memory of Rachel. To have raised such an amount is an incredible achievement.”
Mr Grier said the visit of the aircraft had made an impression on the students.
He added: “They were absolutely delighted and honoured that the air ambulance visited. It lit up their faces. There has been a buzz about the school, everyone wanted to be a part of it. We have all worked together and supported this, and we are all so proud of whas been achieved.”