Volunteer fundraiser Jacky Crew of the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance Service was guest speaker at the August meeting of Crewkerne & District U3A. Jacky explained that with no direct funding from the Government or the National Lottery, the air ambulance service relies on the generosity of the public for support to keep flying. The Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance operates 19 hours a day, seven days a week and has flown more than 12,500 missions since it began in 2000. Jacky Crew said: “Helicopters nowadays are virtually a flying hospital casualty department. The service costs £2.5 million a year to run and donations are a major source of income, with our two big money raising events of the year, a coast to coast bicycle ride from Watchet to West Bay and the fayre organised by Martin Clunes near Beaminster.”
The air ambulances are based at Henstridge airfield and aim to reach anywhere within the counties of Somerset and Dorset within less than 20 minutes. The service’s new Augusta Westland 169 helicopter which came into service last year, provides quicker arrival times and more space on board so that the Critical Care Team have complete access to a patient which can be vital if further intervention or treatment is needed on the way to hospital. After her talk to U3A members, Jacky ran a merchandise stall with the most popular items for sale, proving to be Christmas cards.