Air ambulance 24/7 plan still on track despite £1.7m shortfall
PUBLISHED: 05:59 05 November 2020 | UPDATED: 06:07 05 November 2020
Plans for the region’s air ambulance to fly 24/7 from its new Norwich headquarters are still on track despite a predicted £1.7m fundraising shortfall.
The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a huge hit to the East Anglian Air Ambulance’s fundraising income.
But Patrick Peal, chief executive of the EAAA, visited the site of the new base at Norwich Airport this week to mark the end of exterior building works, which have been delayed by 16 weeks because of the pandemic.
The £7 million base project was started in January of this year and was originally planned to be finished by the end of 2020.
The new base is a key development in enabling the charity to start flying 24/7, from a state-of-the-art purpose-built facility, with improved rest and welfare facilities for the crew.
Mr Peal said: “Developing our Norwich base so that it’s fit for the future and a 24/7 helicopter operation has been a long-term goal of the charity.
“It is a testament to the team and our supporters that, despite all the challenges of 2020 so far, we have managed to keep this huge project more or less on track. Our goal to become the first helicopter emergency medical service in the East of England to fly 24/7 is just a few months away.
“All of this is only possible thanks to the incredible community who support us and have continued to support us throughout the challenges of Covid-19.
“Thanks to the phenomenal response to our PPE appeal in April, we have been able to equip our crews with everything they need to do their jobs, have only missed one shift to date due to Covid-19, and managed to meet our financial target for ‘19/20.”
The funds for the base were ringfenced from years of generous gifts in Wills and committed before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
In the financial year July 2019 to June 2020, EAAA exceeded its fundraising target and finished its financial year with a surplus of £1.1 million.
The additional income was due to a one-off government grant, its PPE appeal for unbudgeted equipment and an incredible response from its supporters since March when the first lockdown was implemented, and charity donations were at risk of declining.
EAAA is currently also on standby to support the region’s hospitals with critical care transfers during the second lockdown.