New foundation's high hopes for funding

A CASH lifeline for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, has been offered by the launch of a newly-formed Air Ambulance Foundation.It has a fresh remit to raise money at a national level in support of the UK's regional air ambulance charities, including the East Anglian Air Ambulance serving Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

A CASH lifeline for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, has been offered by the launch of a newly-formed Air Ambulance Foundation.

It has a fresh remit to raise money at a national level in support of the UK's regional air ambulance charities, including the East Anglian Air Ambulance serving Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

Richard Branson, who has funded the London Air Ambulance through Virgin for six years, has agreed to become the first patron of the Air Ambulance Foundation, which aims to raise £3.5 million by 2006.

Mr Branson said: "Improving trauma care through fast medical response and transfers, particularly with so much congestion on our roads, makes this a fundamental service. A quantum leap in fundraising is needed to keep life-saving helicopters in the air. I wish the foundation every success."

Jon Scourse, executive director of the Air Ambulance Foundation said: "Our number one priority as a new organisation will be to generate additional income at a national level, underpinning the work of the regional charities to ensure that all areas of the UK are covered."

There are currently 15 independent regional air ambulance charities across the UK, but a survey revealed that only 40 per cent of people recognise air ambulances are reliant on donations from the public to continue flying.

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General manager of the East Anglian Air Ambulance Kate Lewis said: "I'm delighted that Richard Branson has agreed to support the new foundation, which will provide an opportunity to co-ordinate, consolidate and assist the work of the regional charities. In addition to generous support from many local people this will be a great boost to our own fundraising efforts"

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