Gallery: The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, will be coming to the rescue of patients in Suffolk next year as he takes up full-time role as air ambulance pilot
- Credit: PA
Prince William has revealed he will donate the wages he earns as a pilot for the East Anglian Air Ambulance back to the charity.
The Duke of Cambridge will next month begin a civilian pilot course, followed by dedicated 999-response training.
The father-of-one is due to take up a full-time role with the charity in spring 2015 and will be based at Cambridge Airport.
His main duties will involve flying an EC145 T2 aircraft, working alongside medics to respond to emergencies ranging from road accidents to heart attacks in
Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
The role will be his main job but his roster will take into account the duties and responsibilities he will continue to undertake on behalf of the Queen.
Today it was revealed that he will be paid a salary but he will donate it, in full, to the charity.
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A Kensington Palace spokesman said the Duke is “very much looking forward to” the next step in his career.
Patrick Peal, chief executive of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), welcomed the announcement, saying the organisation would benefit both from William’s skills as a pilot and from a boost to the charity’s profile.
Mr Peal added: “This is really good news for the charity and we’re delighted His Highness has decided to fly with us.
“We are confident this will help raise the profile of the charity and other air ambulance charities in the region and across the UK.
“We’re very fortunate that we currently enjoy tremendous levels of support but fundraising is always a challenge - we’re looking to raise £7.5 million a year to continue the lifesaving work - and I’m sure that this will help to raise the profile of the charity.
“We’re looking forward to him being part of the team.
“It is a very close-knit crew with the pilot operating closely with the doctor and paramedic so we need a strong team in every operation we go on.”
There had been speculation surrounding the move since William, who is qualified to be a captain or pilot of a Sea King helicopter, ended his active service as an RAF Search and Rescue pilot in September last year.
As new parents, William and Kate are expected to split their time between their new home at Anmer Hall near Sandringham in Norfolk and their apartment at Kensington Palace.
Cambridge Airport is well placed with transport links to both.
Alastair Wilson, the charity’s medical director, said he felt the Duke was well-suited to the role.
“He’s an extraordinary person and it’s just great that he wants to come and do something like this and fly with a charity like the air ambulance,” Mr Wilson added.
“The pilot is part of the team and he will be looking after patients with conditions that would be horrifying for many and some pilots may not like that very much.
“Compared to his role as a search and rescue pilot, he may be dealing with more injury patients than he is used to, but I’m sure he will adapt very well to that.”
The EAAA currently operates two helicopters and employs three pilots in Norwich and three in Cambridge.
Along with a pilot, each helicopter carries a doctor and a paramedic.
Before beginning the new job, William will be required to gain an air transport pilot licence to complement his military training and undergo training specific to his new role.
In order to gain this licence, he must complete five months of training followed by 14 exams and a flight test.
Initially he will be employed as a co-pilot but, after a period of training, William will be qualified as a helicopter commander.
A palace spokesman said: “The job will build on the Duke’s operational experience in the Royal Air Force Search and Rescue force.
“During this time he undertook more than 150 search and rescue operations.”
The announcement further strengthens ties with the city from which William takes his title after he completed a 10-week agricultural course at the University of Cambridge earlier this year.
East Anglian Air Ambulance
The charity was first founded in Norfolk in 1998, in response to the Air Sea Rescue squadron moving from RAF Coltishall in Norfolk to RAF Wattisham in Suffolk.
It started operating just one day a week, but has grown significantly over the years and now has two helicopters, one based in Norwich and another in Cambridge.
Wherever possible, its crew includes a doctor and a critical care paramedic and the bases also have road vehicles for the occasions when the helicopter is not appropriate or available - for example the aircraft are unable to fly in clouds in freezing temperatures.
The charity now operates 365 days a year, covering Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedford. It costs £7.5m each year to provide the charity’s service and it employs around 40 to 50 people as salaried staff.
However, it very much relies on the hard work and support of volunteers across the region.
Key partners include the East of England Ambulance Service and local hospitals, as well as Bond Air Services, which provides the helicopters and pilots, and so will technically be the Duke’s employer rather than the charity.
The EAAA also works closely with fellow air ambulance charities Magpas Helimedix and the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, as well as other pre-hospital critical care organisations and charities.