THE bricks and mortar of Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s new airbase in Semington have been laid and contractors are now planning to fit out the interior thanks to the generosity of Gazette and Herald readers.

We set out to help the charity raise £1.25m towards its new airbase at Outmarsh Farm back in January, and our readers and supporters have been busy jumping out of planes, shaving their hair and baking cakes to do their bit for the appeal.

In the last year, the Reader’s Appeal section of the fundraising has collected an amazing amount, £493.645.57 as the Gazette went to press, with money still coming in. Thanks to that money and to other pledges and donations, there is only around £225,000 left to raise and Kevin Reed, the charity’s head of operations, is delighted.

“It is incredible,” he said. “We have been working on this project for over three years now and to see it in bricks and mortar is great. The difference to our operations will be significant.

“We now have a purpose-built site with dedicated rooms for our clinicians and volunteers and now that we have more room, it will allow us to utilise the skills of our volunteers, which is something we were unable to do before.”

The airbase not only has a large office for volunteers to work from, but also a hi-tech operations room, a flight preparation area and a heated helipad that has room for multiple aircraft to land at once.

“We went to five or six airbases in the south to work out what they did well and what was best for us and that’s where a lot of these ideas came from,” Mr Reed said.

“In addition to the operation room, we also have two training rooms which we are looking to open up to the public, and a simulation suite for clinicians where the temperature can be changed to simulate different conditions.

“We felt like it was a big ask when we launched the appeal but the Wiltshire public really got behind us and without their help, this would never have happened.”

Chief executive David Philpott added: “We’d like to thank the Gazette and their readers for their tremendous support of our Airbase Appeal.

“The regular news coverage of our new airbase, patient stories and the fundraising efforts by individuals, groups and businesses has been outstanding and has certainly helped to raise awareness about Wiltshire Air Ambulance and our Airbase Appeal.

“We’ve been saving lives for over 27 years and this has only been possible thanks to the generosity of people, businesses and grant making trust who donate to us. Our new airbase will secure our future and benefit the entire county.

“The funds raised so far by readers for our Airbase Appeal will help us complete the building and equipping of the new airbase. There may be some add-ons and additional costs but we are confident that the £225,000 should cover these.

“Thanks to your wonderful support, our specialist aircrew and helicopter will be able to save many more lives in the future.”

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