READERS REACH APPEAL TARGET

GENEROUS East Anglian Daily Times' readers have been praised after a life saving helipad appeal raised the required £25,000 in less than three months.Delighted ambulance chiefs have hailed the massive fundraising drive, which will enable critically ill patients to be transported to hospital more quickly and safely.

GENEROUS East Anglian Daily Times' readers have been praised after a life saving helipad appeal raised the required £25,000 in less than three months.

Delighted ambulance chiefs have hailed the massive fundraising drive, which will enable critically ill patients to be transported to hospital more quickly and safely.

Launched by the EADT in July, the campaign caught the imagination of kind-hearted members of the community who quickly set about raising the total with admirable resolve.

Work on the helipad at the West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, will now be completed later this month .


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Simon Gray , executive director of the East Anglian Air Ambulance Trust, said he was delighted with the fund raising efforts and applauded everyone who had raised cash for the vital helipad.

He said: "It is fantastic that the people in west Suffolk have been so generous and I amazed how quickly they have responded to the appeal.

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"It is extremely impressive that so much money has been raised in just ten weeks and it shows how vital the helipad is.

"It is important because the speed in which certain medicines are delivered is so critical and can make such a difference in someone's life expectancy.

"Most of our donations have been under £1,000, which means they have not come from corporate firms - they have come from the good readers of the EADT and the good people of west Suffolk."

Mr Gray said he was particularly pleased the helipad appeal had been a "community event".

The campaign to construct a helipad at Hardwick Heath will mean helicopters can get critically ill and seriously injured patients to the hospital's accident and emergency department faster.

The air ambulance is currently forced to land on a muddy football field meaning vital seconds are lost trying to transport patients across difficult terrain.

The purpose-built helipad is expected to shave vital seconds off the journey time to the accident and emergency department.

Terry Hunt, EADT editor, said: "Having played football at Hardwick Heath, I can vouch for the fact that the surface is not ideal for transporting patients from a helicopter to the hospital!

"So I'm delighted that our generous readers have raised this money in double-quick time, to ensure a smooth transfer in the future."

Officially launched by champion jockey Frankie Dettori in 2000 at Newmarket Racecourse, the East Anglian Air Ambulance began flying a year later - but was only able to operate one day a week.

Within months, Anglia One was flying five days a week and now has a crew on stand-by for 365 days a year, reaching almost anywhere in the region within 20 minutes.

From its main base at Norwich airport - although also operating from a temporary location at Red Lodge, near Mildenhall - the helicopter flies an average of five missions a day.

The service is funded entirely through charitable contributions from the people and businesses of East Anglia.

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