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Marlborough’s mayor highlights funding danger for county air ambulance service

Marlborough’s mayor, Councillor Alexander Kirk Wilson, gave a personal boost yesterday (Tuesday) to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance charity, which is in danger of losing its county police force funding.

And that will mean it is confronted with the task of raising its income from £700,000 to £1.5 million.

The mayor, who has been fascinated by airplanes since his youth and included hang gliding in his hobbies, has made the life-saving service one of his charities to support during his year in office.

That is why he made an official visit to the unit, based behind the Wiltshire county police headquarters, in Devizes, and soon witnessed its helicopter air ambulance flying off on a “shout” to the scene of a traffic accident.

Now celebrating its 21st anniversary, the Wiltshire Air Ambulance has operated throughout its life jointly with Wiltshire Police, though this arrangement may now terminate in 2015 because of national policing strategies.  

“This would be a pity for the county as there is a symbiotic relationship for the crews,” the mayor told Marlborough News Online.  “They generally fly together – pilot, medic and policeman – and all are knowledgeable about and experienced in helping with each other’s work.”

“But more than that, the incidents to which they are called usually call for medical and policing skills.  Obviously this is true of road traffic accidents, but also of many other incidents.”

He added: “But the probability is that the police will drop out of the funding picture.  If so, the Air Ambulance – which receives no public money and is entirely supported by charitable donations – will need to raise its income from about £700,000 to £1.5 million over a four-year run-down of the police contribution.”

A police spokesman said: “Wiltshire Police Authority are currently contractually tied with the Great Western Ambulance Service, until 2014, for the provision of a police helicopter/air ambulance. The current arrangements in Wiltshire will remain as they are at present.”

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