Ipswich: Get festive and support life-saving air ambulance crews at The Star’s Carol Service

SING at the top of your voices and help a life-saving charity raise vital funds.

There is still time to get a ticket to The Star’s annual charity Carol Concert – held this year in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA).

The charity has provided an outstanding service during daylight hours for years.

But after taking delivery of a new night-capable helicopter in September, it is hoped crews will be able to start saving lives in the dark in the coming weeks.

As part of The Star’s Lifesaver Appeal, which is raising money to help launch the night-flying service, tomorrow’s festive spectacular is being held St Mary le Tower Church in Tower Street at 7pm.

If the charity gets the final go-ahead from the Civil Aviation Authority, the EAAA will become the first air ambulance in the country to provide night-time emergency medical services. In Scotland air ambulances can operate at night but only flying to and from lit sites, like hospital helipads. In countries including Germany and the Netherlands, night-flying air ambulances have been able to attend around 30 per cent more cases.

The EAAA’s new aircraft, Eurocopter’s EC135T2, will be based in Cambridge but will cover Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Bedfordshire at night.

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Jemma Varela, who has been a paramedic for ten years and has spent three years flying with the air ambulance, said: “They have not left a stone unturned to get us prepared for this.

“We’ve been up to King’s Lynn and into deepest darkest Norfolk. Places do look different at night. During the day I would normally navigate using things like 200ft wires, train lines, a windmill, or a village with two churches, but in the dark all that is gone.

“You have to rely a lot on the outline of the villages, lit masts, bigger structures and some railway lines.

“We have been going out to the middle of the airfield where it is pitch dark and running through scenarios with just our head torches on. We’ve also got new lights which we can set up on stands and we have been practising using them.”

Proceeds raised at the concert will go towards buying equipment to help crews expand their night flying mission. The charity receives no government funding and the �6million needed each year to ensure the service can operate comes entirely from donations.