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Appeal gauntlet is thrown down
A group of eminent people from Wiltshire is calling on the Great Western Ambulance Service to relinquish control of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Appeal.
The board of GWAS is the sole trustee of the appeal, which is funded entirely by donations from the public and has more than £1 million in its coffers.
The appeal has to raise £350,000 a year to keep the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, which is part of the Wiltshire Police helicopter, flying.
Growing unrest among supporters of the air ambulance about GWAS's reluctance to sign up for a further five years with Wiltshire Police to operate the joint helicopter has led to the formation of a group of people who want the appeal to transfer to independent trustees.
In addition, the Charity Commission has stated that trustees of air ambulance charities must not be directed by the local ambulance service.
The group comprises Richard Youens, a retired loss adjuster living in Rushall; Lady Suzanne Jones, of Rushall, the widow of General Sir Edward Jones who served at Westminster as Black Rod; Tracey Edwards, the former paid fundraiser of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Appeal; Roger Karn, a solicitor in Trowbridge; Jonathan Oliphant, a retired Army officer and clerk of Chirton Parish Council; Ann Levick, of Codford, and Dr Richard Riseley-Prichard, of Allington, near Devizes, both current advisors to GWAS and former trustees of the air ambulance appeal.
Mr Youens said: "We don't want to lose the Wiltshire Air Ambulance so we have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the people of Wiltshire.
"GWAS has a conflict of interests and we are trying to be helpful to them. We want to relieve them of the responsibility of this conflict."
A spokesman for GWAS told the Gazette: "As trustees of the Great Western Ambulance Service charity, the trust board is committed to providing an effective air ambulance cover to the people of Wiltshire.
"The Wiltshire Air Ambulance is not a charity in its own right - it is part of a charitable fund that is held and administered by Great Western Ambulance Service. We can confirm that we have received a recent proposal from a group who wish to become the new trustees, which is being assessed."
n A board meeting of GWAS takes place today at 10am at Jenner House, Langley Park Estate, Chippenham. The public can attend and ask questions.