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School pupils help launch air ambulance charity's newest helicopter

PUBLISHED: 12:41 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:05 01 May 2019

The welcoming committee at Newmarket Academy included jockey Bob Champion, mayor Rachel Hood and deputy mayor James Lay. Picture: MAGPAS

The welcoming committee at Newmarket Academy included jockey Bob Champion, mayor Rachel Hood and deputy mayor James Lay. Picture: MAGPAS

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Students at Newmarket Academy helped to launch the Magpas air ambulance charity's newest helicopter - after it touched down on their school field in Suffolk.

The new Magpas AW169 air ambulance helicopter will serve across East Anglia. Picture: ROB HOLDINGThe new Magpas AW169 air ambulance helicopter will serve across East Anglia. Picture: ROB HOLDING

Magpas Air Ambulance showcased their newest aircraft to school pupils on Wednesday, following the end of the previous helicopter's operational life.

The charity says the new AW169 helicopter has state of the art software, enabling it to fly further and faster, allowing them to reach a greater number of patients.

The former aircraft, an MD902 Explorer, had served the charity for seven years, providing care to thousands of people in crisis.

As part of the upgrade, doctors and paramedics will be able to fly for more than three hours without returning to base for refuelling – which the charity says will help them provide hospital level care to patients in life-threatening emergencies across the region.

The helicopter replaces the previous MD902 Explorer aircraft. Picture: MAGPASThe helicopter replaces the previous MD902 Explorer aircraft. Picture: MAGPAS

Before its launch, the ambulance visited Newmarket Academy, where it was met by a welcoming committee of more than 700 pupils, in addition to jockey Bob Champion and former patients.

One attendee, former patient Laura Henderson, who suffered a severe head injuries after falling from a horse in Lavenham last year, said: “They saved my life. They literally brought an A&E department to where I had my accident and put me in a medically induced coma.

“Had they not been able to do that there and then, I wouldn't have survived. It's been emotional to see them again today, but I'm very proud and as I watched the helicopter land here today I just said 'they're my heroes'.”

Magpas medical director, doctor Simon Lewis said: “With the new aircraft, we can now get to patients much quicker and we're able to carry more medical kit too – which gets the A&E to the patient quicker and saves those lives.

Former patient Laura Henderson with paramedic Andy Smith from Magpas Air Ambulance in Newmarket. Picture: MAGPASFormer patient Laura Henderson with paramedic Andy Smith from Magpas Air Ambulance in Newmarket. Picture: MAGPAS

“Magpas Air Ambulance can only exist because of the communities within which we work. Without our supporters, we wouldn't be able to bring this new aircraft to the region.”

In upgrading to a new aircraft, the charity now needs to raise an additional £50,000 a month to keep it in the air, leading to the new “further, faster, greater” appeal.

The charity, based in Cambridgeshire, is not a state-funded service, relying on the generosity of the public to ensure its operation.

Donations to the charity, who attended more than 1,000 call-outs in the region last year, can be made on their website.

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