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Troops at Wattisham Flying Station channel energy into running challenge to raise more than £1,900 for East Anglian Air Ambulance



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British Army troops based in Wattisham collectively ran 1,864 miles to provide a much-needed boost to the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

A group of 17 Apache helicopter pilots from 3 Regiment Army Air Corps channelled their energy into running the equivalent distance from Wattisham Flying Station to Miroslawiec Air Base in Poland and back again.

The 662 Squadron had been due to travel to the Polish air base to take part in Exercise Defender Europe, before it was cancelled due to coronavirus, and instead chose to complete the Mission 2 Miroslawiec challenge, raising more than £1,900 for the charity.

Apache pilots based at Wattisham Flying Station raised £1,900 from the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Contributed picture. (37994714)
Apache pilots based at Wattisham Flying Station raised £1,900 from the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Contributed picture. (37994714)

Captain José Granell, who organised the fundraiser, said: "We were all frustrated by the cancellation of Defender Europe, which would have been a great opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities to our allies and improve how we can work together.

"Setting ourselves this running challenge, linked to Miroslawiec, kept us motivated and fit while we were working from home during lockdown. We each did our own running and shared the distance, which saw us working towards a common goal.

"Supporting the East Anglian Air Ambulance was a natural fit. They do fantastic lifesaving work, which we know after one of our soldier’s life was saved by being airlifted to hospital after a motorbike accident.

Apache pilots based at Wattisham Flying Station raised £1,900 from the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Contributed picture. (37994698)
Apache pilots based at Wattisham Flying Station raised £1,900 from the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Contributed picture. (37994698)

"Also, as fellow aviators, we share the skies of East Anglia and both exploit the speed and reach of helicopters to do our job."

A cheque was presented to representatives of the East Anglian Air Ambulance in Norwich on Monday.

Sophie Williams, community fundraising manager at East Anglian Air Ambulance, added: “It’s a huge honour to have the support of this incredible team and we love the imagination and commitment they put into this challenge during the lockdown.

Apache pilots based at Wattisham Flying Station raised £1,900 from the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Contributed picture. (37994688)
Apache pilots based at Wattisham Flying Station raised £1,900 from the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Contributed picture. (37994688)

"Several of our pilots trained in the military and working on the frontline, there is already a lot of support and respect for one another’s work. To have the opportunity for the pilots and the Apache helicopter to stop off at the Norwich base has been a real treat for the crew and really lifted their spirits.

"We’re incredibly grateful for this amazing donation. As a charity, we are going through a really unusual time where we have extra costs to stay operational and safe but our fundraising income has taken a knock.

"We need community support now more than ever to keep our teams flying and saving lives and want to say a really big thank you to everyone who took part in this challenge and donated."