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Princess Royal in Newmarket for launch of appeal by flying doctor service Magpas

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The Princess Royal was at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket this week for the launch of an appeal to raise the remaining £3million needed to fund a new airbase for emergency flying doctor service, Magpas, of which she is patron.

The charity, which this year celebrates its 50th anniversary, has been at its current airbase since 2005, where initially it operated from just one room. On Monday, looking towards the next 50 years, it launched its Future 50 Appeal to help fund its new airbase.

Magpas Air Ambulance has a team of over 50 doctors and critical care paramedics operating a 24/7 service by air and road and has been outgrowing its current headquarters for a number of years.

The Princess Royal at the launch of Magpas Air Ambulance's Future 50 Appeal in Newmarket on Monday.
The Princess Royal at the launch of Magpas Air Ambulance's Future 50 Appeal in Newmarket on Monday.

Its current airbase has been sold for development and its enforced move has presented the organisation with the opportunity not only build a bespoke new airbase fit for 24/7 operations, but also relocate to a site located closer to the region’s major trunk roads, with the aim of reducing dispatch times by road by15 minutes which could prove crucial to its life-saving work.

The charity has already raised over half of the £7 million needed for the project and got planning permission for its new base, which will be at Alconbury Weald, in 2020. The Future 50 Appeal needs to raise the remaining £3 million to complete the base which is due to be operational by March 2023.

As well as aiming to improve response times by up to 15 minutes due to improved proximity to major roads, the new airbase will have a dedicated training centre to train the next generation of the region’s pre-hospital emergency doctors and paramedics It will be equipped for 24/7 operations with well-being, and rest facilities, for crew and clinicians, as well as community and patient facilities on site.

The new base will also be more efficient by co-locating the charity’s operations and support staff, reducing the charity's overheads, and reducing environmental impact.

The Future 50 Appeal is being led by John Bridge who took over as chairman of Magpas Air Ambulance in the summer, and for whom it is the first major initiative and something he is very passionate about.

“Over many years, I have witnessed the Magpas air ambulance flying through our skies to provide lifesaving care to someone whose life hangs in the balance. I’m always mindful that life could be someone I know, or someone I care about very much, or I myself might one day need their service," he said.

"Magpas Air Ambulance provides vital care for our community that we have been fortunate to have benefited from for the past 50 years. I am immensely proud to be the chairman of Magpas Air Ambulance at such an important time for the charity, as well continuing to lead the appeal to build a new bespoke airbase creating the foundation for the organisation’s next 50 years.”

Daryl Brown, chief executive of the charity added: “We are extremely fortunate to receive fantastic support from the communities in which we work. As a charity, our service relies on donations from our supporters and the public to continue to operate and save lives 24/7. For this reason we will be looking for alternative and new sources of funding for the Future 50 Appeal.

“The launch event on Monday was a fantastic occasion and Magpas Air Ambulance was honoured our Royal patron could hear more about our plans for the new airbase in person. We look forward to welcoming all our supporters to the new base in what we hope will be the not so distant future.”

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