Our Launch At Lambeth Palace
There was a very special arrival in the heart of London when the national Children’s Air Ambulance charity landed one of its new helicopters in the gardens of Lambeth Palace.
The momentous occasion was hosted by HRH the Duke of York and was supported by a host of celebrity ambassadors, as a seven-year project to provide a nationwide high-speed transfer service for critically ill babies and children came to fruition.
The Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA) is the first and only dedicated paediatric and neonatal transfer helicopter service in the country operating four times faster than road. It is a charity funded entirely by donations and works closely with nine NHS Clinical Partner Teams including STRS based at London Evelina Children’s Hospital – a specialist retrieval service for critically ill babies and children.
Welcoming the introduction of the new aircraft, charity Patron Sarah, The Duchess of York, said: “The Children’s Air Ambulance is an important charity which helps save the lives of so many babies and young children. These aircraft make a real difference to these young patients where speed can be the difference between life and death.
“Without transfer by helicopter there could have been very different outcomes to the lives of those saved by the service and their many stories are a testament to that fact.
“I know the introduction of a second helicopter will help the charity to reach even more children across the country but to ensure they can continue this lifesaving work it is important that donations keep coming in.”
Since 2012 the charity had been operating out of the Midlands with one aircraft. The decision to provide two helicopters at bases in the north and south of Great Britain has already enabled the charity to meet more needs, completing nearly 100 missions since their launch late last year, and with a target to complete 300 missions a year.
One of those who has first-hand experience of the difference the transfer service can make to the health of a critically ill child is mum Alex Dear from Kent whose daughter Edith (6) needed specialist care at King’s College, London after an emergency operation.
The Children’s Air Ambulance flew Edith the 75-mile journey from her local hospital with dad Jeff Dear accompanying her in the helicopter. The flight lasted just 33 minutes while mum Alex, who travelled by road, took over three hours to join her family.
Commenting on the transfer, Alex said “Everyone was very reassuring and explained what was going to happen. They answered all our questions and we were relieved to know that she would be in good hands and be taken to the specialist post-operative care she needed as quickly as possible.”
“We now have a real appreciation of the amazing difference the Children’s Air Ambulance makes to families like ours and we will always be grateful.”
Commenting on the new aircraft, TCAA CEO Andy Williamson said: “This is the culmination of a long and difficult journey to provide this unique service and I am very proud to see it come to fruition and of all those involved.
“The difference the charity’s two new helicopters are making to children, parents and NHS doctors and nurses is very significant and that’s what this charity is all about. We look forward to continuing our important work to ensure we’re able to keep our aircraft flying, to keep hope alive to and keep families together.”
The AgustaWestland 169 aircraft are based at Doncaster Sheffield and London Oxford airports. The bespoke equipment on-board includes a specially designed stretcher system and clinical interior, incubator and extra seat for a parent to be able to accompany their child. These state of the art facilities make the helicopters second to none in the provision of paediatric and neonatal transfers.
Anyone wishing to find out more about the lifesaving work of the charity can call 0300 3045 999 or visit www.childrensairambulance.org.uk