A North-East Member of Parliament who played a key role in securing a £5m investment in the country’s air ambulances has visited his local service to hear how their share of the money will be spent.
Hexham’s Conservative MP Guy Opperman met staff at the Great North Air Ambulance Service, which will receive £250,000 to go towards a new base for the charity’s fundraising and operational teams.
The money could be spent upgrading the charity’s existing premises or securing new ones once current leases expire in 2018 in a plan which would save the charity thousands of pounds every year in rent.
The money was part of a £5m donation from the Government to the Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) for equal distribution between the twenty regional air ambulance services.
The Government had raised the money through fines levied on UK banks for rigging the Libor interbank interest rate.
Mr Opperman has long been a supporter of GNAAS, having previously walked the Pennine Way for the charity, raising £1,800 in doing so.
Now the chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Ambulances, Mr Opperman originally raised the possibility of diverting Libor funds to the country’s air ambulances with his Westminster colleagues, before working alongside the charities, and the AAA, in securing the money.
He said: “It was a pleasure to meet the hardworking team behind my local air ambulance and I’m just happy to be able to pass on this good news to them.
“There are many people in my constituency and beyond who owe their lives to air ambulances, so it is hugely satisfying to have been involved in securing this funding.”
GNAAS chief executive Grahame Pickering said: “It is just one less cost that we have to worry about. Of course, we must still raise thousands of pounds every day to keep the aircraft flying, but this will help remove some of the uncertainty surrounding where the charity will be accommodated in the long term.
“We’d like to thank Guy and the Association of Air Ambulances for their work on securing this money.”
Announcing the funding earlier this year, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said: “From enabling the fantastic air ambulance services to extend their flying hours, to helping build brand new specialist headquarters, this funding will play a vital role on helping to save hundreds of lives every year.
“It is absolutely right that we use funds from those who demonstrated the worst values to reward those who demonstrate the best, like our hardworking air ambulance crews.”