Prince Edward officially opens new air ambulance headquarter

HRH The Earl of Wessex has officially opened the new headquarters of the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance and got to see its brand new helicopter.

HRH The Earl of Wessex meets the air ambulance paramedics. EMN-210930-093057001
HRH The Earl of Wessex meets the air ambulance paramedics. EMN-210930-093057001

The Earl attended the event on Tuesday and spent time speaking to supporters, volunteers, staff and crew while taking a tour of the new purpose-built facility near RAF Waddington and the charity’s new helicopter, which arrived at the base on Saturday.

Prince Edward addressed the guests and acknowledged their contribution to the charity, saying: “It is thanks to supporters and volunteers like you that this service can continue to carry out the work it does and operate from such a fantastic facility.”

The Earl then unveiled a plaque to mark the occasion.

The Earl of Wessex shares a joke with the air ambulance crew. EMN-210930-093033001

Past patient Joshua Marriott told the gathered guests: “If it wasn’t for the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance crew, I would not be here today. They scooped me up off the side of the road after a motorcycle accident and got me to hospital.”

Joshua’s back was broken in several places after his motorcycle was in collision with a car on June 24, 2020. Also broken were two bones in his neck, both wrists, four ribs and he had suffered internal bleeding from a ruptured spleen.

All he remembers at the scene in Skellingthorpe is the emergency services and the arrival of the Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance which had taken four minutes to get to Joshua from its base at RAF Waddington.

“I don’t remember much but I remember the Air Ambulance crew and them being really, really good,” said Joshua.

The Earl of Wessex is given a guided tour of the helicopter by Medical Director Gareth Davies. EMN-210930-093045001

“Me and my family are into aviation and my step-dad tracked the helicopter flight and the speed they got me to hospital was incredible – it took 13 minutes. If it wasn’t for the air ambulance I wouldn’t be here today.”

The seed for a new HQ was planted more than five-years-ago when CEO Karen Jobling joined the charity. The new facility, which cost around £4m, was funded by capital grants including one secured from the Department for Health and Social Care.

Karen said: “We were honoured to have His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex officially open our new building. He took the time to chat to all of our supporters, volunteers and past patients along with some of our crew and staff team.

“He recognised, as we do, that our new HQ isn’t just a building, it’s the first time all of our staff and crew have come together under one roof after 27 years on separate sites.

Sharing a joke with some of the backroom staff and fundraisers at the Royal opening event. EMN-210930-093109001

“The new facility enables us to expand and further develop our critical care service, invite past patients and their families to meet the crew who attended to them, and somewhere our generous supporters can come to see first-hand what we do.

“We’re also delighted that our upgraded helicopter has arrived, and we’re looking forward to having our iconic yellow presence in the skies again soon once training is complete.”

The charity’s latest helicopter, a Leonardo AW169, is now being put through its paces while clinician training takes place.

LNAA Chief Pilot Llewis Ingamells said: “While our new AW169 looks strikingly similar to our previous one, this is the latest generation from Leonardo Helicopters. There are a host of changes underneath the familiar yellow paint scheme which make this the most capable helicopter LNAA have ever operated.

Now fully installed in its new home - the latest Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance. EMN-210930-093122001

“Noticeable changes supporters may have spotted are the relocation of the Trakkabeam searchlight to the tail boom, retractable ‘bear paws’ over the wheels and engine inlet filters just to name a few. Inside it has weather radar, phase 6 flight software, an extended baggage bay and a truly state of the art medical interior capable of undertaking true critical care transfers.”

The new air ambulance in its new hangar at Waddington. EMN-210930-093021001