Helimed News Winter 2020/Spring 2021

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Helimed NEWS

Winter Spring 2020/21

See our new critical care car Learn what it takes to become a Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care

Your Charity, Saving Lives Together


Hello and Welcome to Helimed News W

e are looking forward to a new year, 2021, and new challenges. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a huge year of change for us all. As you can see on page 3, despite the unusual circumstances our crew have been busy attending incidents across the region, continuing to be there for our families, friends and neighbours when they are needed most. During 2020 we were thankful for some exciting developments, with the opening of our new charity shop in Westbury-on-Trym, the launch of our new look critical care car and welcoming some new Trainee Specialist Paramedics in Critical Care to Team GWAAC. We would like to take this opportunity to look forward to 2021 with you, our passionate supporters. If you are thinking of taking on new challenges, why not download our Fundraising

Guide or join one of our challenge events? Or, if you are looking to meet some new people, you could consider volunteering with us. For inspiration from Team GWAAC, details of how to download your fundraising pack, and information on getting in touch with us, take a look at our Community Round Up on pages 12-13 If you are able to, please consider turning to the back page and making a regular donation to GWAAC. A donation of £10 a month for a year could go towards specialist medical equipment for our crew, such as a Credo box to safely store and transport blood to patients who require a transfusion. Thank you for making a real difference to the lives of local people in our region – we could not be there without you.

Ian, Joe, and Vicky Your local Community Coordinators

Ian Cantoni

Joe Hughes

B&NES and North Somerset Community Coordinator

Bristol & South Gloucestershire Community Coordinator

Gloucestershire Community Coordinator

Follow Us

Contact Us www.gwaac.com 0303 4444 999

Vicky King

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity info@gwaac.com

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, 3rd Floor, County Gates, Ashton Road, Bristol, BS3 2JH


Registered charity number 1121300 2

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Our missions in 2020


2020 was an unusual year in terms of mission numbers for our GWAAC crew, with COVID-19 and lockdown seeing a drop in call-outs across April and May. However, figures soon rose back 200 up to our average of over five call-outs a day, with some days seeing many more.

Mission Data


Meet our new Trainee Specialist Paramedics


Our new critical care car


Our first ever GWAAC shop


Our crew have remained right here and ready 150 to bring every single day throughout the year lifesaving pre-hospital emergency care to those in urgent need across the region. 100

J A N U A RY - S E P T E M B E R 2 0 2 0

1,238 349







How our crew have been working with patients during COVID-19


Community Round-Up


When I’m gone, I’ll still be helping GWAAC


Former patient sets £50,000 fundraising target after our crew saved his life


News & Updates


Spotted! Your photos

February March




Back Cover July







a day on average





£2,000 Each mission costs around £2,000 on average

£10,000 A


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Our lifesaving missions this year have been made possible thanks to your donations, raising £10,000 a day.

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Helimed News Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Winter 2020/Spring 2021


Meet our new Trainee Specialist Paramedics in Critical Care

Above: Trainee SPCCs carrying out a fitness test on assessment day


e welcomed two new Trainee Specialist Paramedics in Critical Care to our crew in August 2020. Fleur and Dan join our team after successfully completing various assessments at the beginning of 2020.


Both bring with them a wealth of experience in pre-hospital medicine, with Dan working for both London Air Ambulance and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance previously and Fleur coming from a Lead Emergency Care Paramedic role in South London.

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What is an assessment day like for Specialist Paramedics? Our Specialist Paramedics in Critical Care (SPCC) work full-time with GWAAC, attending to critically-ill or injured patients every single day. They endure a long selection process before undertaking up to two years of pre-hospital emergency medicine training to qualify as a member of our Critical Care Team.

Because of the advanced level of care that our crew provide, they only attend the most critical and seriously ill patients. It’s hard and can often be very upsetting. Having a team around you that you trust and can talk to and laugh with, is a huge part in coping with this job. During these assessments, we watched how each individual handled the difficult task and their attitude towards it, to get a sense of who they were and whether they could

Our PR and Digital Communications Coordinator, Becky Garland, attended the 2020 assessment days to see what it takes to become a Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care.

work effectively with a team.

“To be able to walk into any situation and make quick decisions that can have such a huge, lasting impact on someone’s life requires a special type of person.

another, having bonded over the experience.

This is why GWAAC has a rigorous selection process, to ensure that all of our SPCCs have the right experience, qualities and clinical knowledge, plus the ability to work under immense pressure and make quick decisions.

– wanting to work for GWAAC’s Critical Care

The candidates went through a series of assessments that tested their clinical, leadership, fitness and teamwork skills in a series of simulated scenarios and tasks, all of which they had minimal or no time to prepare for – being given a short brief before being taken to each assessment station.

At the end of the day, they all seemed exhausted. However, despite competing for the same roles, they were all supporting and rooting for one Each had different backgrounds and clinical experience, travelling from different parts of the UK, but they all shared one common factor Team. A team that strives to make a difference in people’s lives every day.” To read Becky’s full account of the assessment day, visit www.gwaac.com/assessment-day

Helimed News Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Winter 2020/Spring 2021

A Mobile Treatment Centre was brought to GWAAC’s base to host some simulated assessments


Our new critical care car I

n 2020, we introduced a new critical care car to our fleet of response vehicles at GWAAC, which will allow our crew to reach more people in urgent need.

Our Critical Care Doctors and Specialist Paramedics respond to those in need by car as well as helicopter, as both carry lifesaving medical equipment on board, including ventilators and advanced drugs that are not carried on a land ambulance. This allows them to bring hospital-level emergency care quickly to the scene of a patient.

GWAAC’s Air Operations Officer, John Wood, said: “Reliable, appropriate and fully equipped cars are essential for us to reach and treat patients in the most effective way. The new vehicle will enable our team to negotiate tougher terrain and drive safely in challenging weather conditions to reach patients quickly and safely, particularly in rural areas.”

Having critical care cars ensures that the crew are always ready to respond in any conditions, for example, when the helicopter is unable to fly due to bad weather or maintenance, or when the location of a patient has limited safe landing sites nearby and is easier to access by road.


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The new Skoda Kodiaq required a bespoke conversion from Halls Electrical Ltd to transform the model into a critical care car. The 720-litre boot has been redesigned to house essential lifesaving equipment, including ventilators, monitors and oxygen. The front of the car was also adapted with a 999 response screen so the crew can receive details of call-outs and navigate to patients in need quickly.


Cost of converting a vehicle into a critical care car

Additional power supplies, including split charging and mains shoreline capabilities, have been added to ensure that both the cars and the kit inside are constantly ready to respond. The new car is one of three that will be replacing our old vehicles, which are becoming increasingly unfit for purpose. We were lucky to be selected as one of the grant recipients from a one-off Air Ambulance Capital Fund from the Department of Health and Social Care in 2020, which saw us receive over £250,000 towards the purchase of the new emergency vehicles and the equipment they contain.


Cost of kitting out a critical care car with a complete set of medical equipment

Helimed News Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Autumn Winter 2020/21


cost of running a critical care car for a year



See inside our first ever GWAAC shop!


e are very excited to have opened GWAAC’s first ever shop in Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol. Our new shop opened its doors to our wonderful community on Saturday 26th September, with a small and socially distanced ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion.

The shop is a huge milestone for our charity and will help raise much-needed awareness of our lifesaving work in the local area, and, hopefully, much-needed funds to ensure that our crew can continue to be here for those in need. Lord Lieutenant of Bristol and Patron of GWAAC, Peaches Golding OBE, and former patient, Sallyanne Haigh, did the honours of opening the shop, along with some of GWAAC’s staff and crew, Patrons Countess Bathurst, Prof Steve West CBE and John Christensen, and Westbury-on-Trym Councillor and Freewheeler, Steve Smith.


Our first day saw us take over £1,200 with a stream of local customers and supporters keeping our new shop staff busy! Anna Perry, CEO of GWAAC, said: “At the beginning of the pandemic, we decided that we should be as bold and as brave as our clinical crews, who stepped up and worked on the frontline, putting themselves at risk. We decided to go ahead with our plan and open our first shop, based on a belief that organisations should invest in and support our high streets, and that we should reduce our impact on the environment. “In order to raise the significant amount of money we need to run GWAAC’s critical care service, we need to become more of a household name for the communities we serve, so the people we rely on for our funding know who we are, what we do and that we need their help. We wanted our first shop to be a flagship – proudly displaying our name to as many people as possible. We think this shop meets all our ideals”.

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Meet the staff

Rosie Pitcher

Louise Hamer

Rachel Axford

Shop Manager

Assistant Shop Manager

Assistant Shop Manager

The shop is open 09:00 - 17:00

Monday to Saturday Come by and say hello or follow us on social media @GWAACShop_WoT on Instagram and @GWAACShopWoT on Facebook. The shop opened in September 2020

Interested in volunteering at our new shop? Our retail volunteers play a vital role in generating income and raising the profile of our work locally. If you are interested in joining our dedicated team of volunteers at our new shop, then please do get in touch on 0303 4444 999 or by email to claire.harmer@gwaac.com

Have items to donate? If you have any donations, we ask that you get in touch with us beforehand on 0117 440 0700 so that we can be sure to manage all donations appropriately in line with COVID-19 advice and guidelines.

Helimed News Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Winter 2020/Spring 2021


How our crew have been working with patients during COVID-19


espite the pandemic, our crew have continued to adapt in order to deliver our lifesaving emergency care to those in urgent need.

With this has come the need for advanced Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to be worn, to protect both the crew and the patients they see. This doesn’t come without its challenges; the PPE is hot and uncomfortable and can make communication in difficult situations harder. Below are some stories from our crew of working during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Patient showing COVID-19 symptoms becomes critically unwell Specialist Paramedic, Matt and Critical Care Doctor, Andrew, were called out to a patient who had collapsed at home after isolating with suspected


COVID-19. At the time, community testing for the virus was not available, and the patient had become extremely unwell, and was in need of critical care. On arrival, Matt and Andrew donned full PPE, consisting of a full protective suit, gloves, mask and visor, before approaching the patient – this was to ensure both protection of them, the patient in question, and future patients they would attend to. After assessing the patient, they were found to have sepsis and very low blood glucose levels. The patient was in a critical condition and required oxygen and an emergency anaesthetic. During the pandemic, our clinicians are generally advised against performing these procedures where possible as they create a higher risk of contamination. However, in this case, the patient was unlikely to survive to hospital and so it was deemed a necessary intervention.

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Top right: GWAAC’s crew training in necessary PPE The crew administered oxygen and gave the patient an emergency anaesthetic at scene, placing them into an induced coma to take control of the patients breathing – this enabled them to carefully manage the patient’s condition until they could transport them to hospital.

Critically-ill patient requires emergency anaesthetic at scene On a late shift one evening Lead Doctor, Ed Valentine, and Specialist Paramedic, Pete Reeve, were called to a patient who had collapsed with reduced levels of consciousness and difficulty breathing. GWAAC’s assistance was requested by the land ambulance crew who had arrived on scene and were already assessing the patient. On arrival, Pete and Ed donned Level 3 PPE, consisting of a Tyvek suit, mask, visor and gloves. After assessing the patient, they could see no sign of head injury, or COVID-19, however, with many patients asymptomatic, all precautions had to be taken. The patient needed an emergency anaesthetic, and with drive times to hospital looking at over 30 minutes, it was deemed necessary for our crew to carry this out on scene. The crew set up their equipment at a distance, to reduce any risk of contamination, and a pre-hospital emergency anaesthesia was given,

placing the patient on a ventilator to take control of their breathing. The crew reported that the PPE, although essential, was extremely hot and made communication during this job very difficult, removing the ability to lip-read and communicate with one another as they were used to doing in a complicated situation. This also meant that handover to the hospital team was more challenging, and our crew had to adapt to new restrictions that had been put in place for everyone’s safety. Working in these conditions has now become the new normal for our crew, who continue to step up and adapt each and every day to ensure that our patients are given the best pre-hospital care, and the best chance of a positive outcome. We are extremely proud of their hard work on the frontline during these difficult times, and none of what they do would be possible without the support from you, our communities. From making regular donations to keep our service running, to those who stepped in to help us acquire the necessary extra PPE for our crew, ensuring their safety in difficult conditions, we could not continue to do what we do without you. Thank you.

Helimed News Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Winter 2020/Spring 2021



Community Round-Up Two Guys and a Bull raise a lifesaving £2,500!


ur fundraising superheroes, Two Guys and a Bull, completed their 28-mile walk in aid of GWAAC over the August 2020 Bank Holiday weekend after their original date was postponed due to COVID-19.

Feeling inspired to hold your own fundraiser?

Walking from Tewkesbury to Stroud, the team raised over an incredible £3,000 – enough to cover one potentially lifesaving mission for our crew. We would like to say a huge thank you for continuing to support us despite difficult circumstances – we can’t wait for the 2021 walk!

Download our free Fundraising Guide full of resources and helpful tips



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Charity Golf Days make a return! We were so grateful to see the return of a few fundraising events in 2020, with two fantastic golf days taking place in aid of GWAAC in Gloucestershire. Lilley Brook Golf Day raised over £1,000 and we were selected as Minchinhampton Golf Club’s chosen charity by their Ladies Captain, Sally. Our Gloucestershire Community Coordinator, Vicky, attended their Ladies Day event to meet with the social committee and some of the club members who have shown such incredible support. Thank you – we look forward to being able to show both clubs around our base soon so they can see how their support makes a difference to our crew and patients.

Lorna’s 15,000ft jump for GWAAC Congratulations to Lorna, who finally got to do her skydive for GWAAC after many cancellations and postponements due to bad weather, undergoing a hip replacement, and COVID-19. Lorna took on her jump for GWAAC on 20th September 2020 and has raised enough to fund one lifesaving mission so far! Lorna is also part of the organising committee for Mellow in the Meadow, a local festival held in South Gloucestershire that has raised over £6,000 for our charity over the past few years. Sadly, due to COVID-19, the festival did not take place in 2020, but we keep our fingers crossed for its return in 2021 and remain hugely grateful for their continuous support.

Love is in the air (ambulance) What is love? For Sharon and her husband, Paul, it’s 30 years together and going strong! Whilst on a cruise in 2018, the pair were so entertained by a Gary Barlow tribute act that they decided to book him for their Pearl wedding anniversary in September 2020. With a little patience, and a considerable reduction in the number of socially-distanced guests, their (second) greatest day was ‘the best thing about 2020’. The best bit? Sharon and Paul decided to make their special day go even further, and despite the big change in plans, managed to raise a huge £925 for GWAAC – and want to do more in 2021! So, perhaps you have a special day coming up. Whether it’s a birthday, wedding anniversary, wedding, or you just fancy putting on a special day for your family and friends, you too could do something amazing for your local community and ask for donations to Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. For more ideas or if you would like to get in touch with one of our Community Coordinators, please visit gwaac.com/fundraise or email info@gwaac.com

Helimed News Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Winter 2020/Spring 2021


When I’m gone, I’ll still be helping GWAAC


reat Western Air Ambulance Charity founder, John Christensen, looks back to the charity’s early days and forward to what a gift in your will could do to save many more lives.

“When I started GWAAC in 2007 there was no dedicated air ambulance for Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, and parts of Wiltshire. As Chair of the Great Western Ambulance NHS Trust, I was determined to put this right. However, it was in a personal capacity that I brought together people with the skills required to form the charity and invited A&E consultant Jonathan Benger to found the clinical team.


“GWAAC is in my will because I want to be sure that, when I’m gone, I’ll still be helping GWAAC develop new, innovative techniques so that even more people recover to live life to the full.”

At first, it was tough, running just one critical care car from Bristol’s Central Ambulance Station. But under Jonathan’s direction, the first Critical Care Team in the South West came together. His model, of Specialist Paramedics in Critical Care and Critical Care Doctors working hand in hand, quickly became the gold standard of critical care.”

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Above: John Christensen at the royal opening of the new base in September 2019 In 2017, I stepped down as CEO, so proud of what the charity had achieved. The journey I experienced in my ten years at GWAAC would not have been possible without dedicated supporters and volunteers like you. Today, as a GWAAC Patron, my mission is to help secure GWAAC’s future as an innovator in clinical care, thus saving many more lives. Please join me, by updating or making your will to include GWAAC. Like me, you can provide for your loved ones and leave a gift to charity. Give life, with a gift in your will. Thank you.”

“When I founded GWAAC, immediately I saw the desperate needs for its lifesaving and life-enhancing work. Many a time I’d be at my desk, tears running down my cheeks, reading letters from families so grateful to GWAAC’s Critical Care Team.”

Make or update your will for free Through our will-making partners, you have the choice of a home visit, telephone or video appointment, or to update your will online at your own pace. Visit www.gwaac.com/gifts-in-wills where you can download our free booklet Give life, with a gift in your will.

Helimed News Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Winter 2020/Spring 2021


Former patient sets £50,000 fundraising target after our crew saved his life


ormer patient, Adrian Pearce, has set himself the incredible target of raising £50,000 for GWAAC after our Critical Care Team treated him in 2019.

bleed on the brain, two neck breaks, a broken back in nine places, five broken ribs, a torn retina in his left eye and a stroke, leaving him in need of critical care, fast.

On 10th May 2019, Adrian was involved in a collision with a lorry whilst out cycling. He suffered multiple serious injuries, including a

GWAAC’s Critical Care Team arrived at the scene, stabilising Adrian before airlifting him to Southmead Hospital, the nearest major trauma centre equipped to deal with his extent of injuries. After three months in hospital, Adrian was allowed home, and after a long journey of physio, he is slowly on the road to recovery. He has now set his sights on a huge personal challenge, hoping to raise an incredible £50,000 for GWAAC.

“I was lucky to live and certainly the odds were against me ever walking again.”


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Far Left: Adrian (left) and Critical Care Doctor, Matt, at GWAAC’s base Centre: Adrian and his wife, Lou, ready for their charity ride in December 2019 Adrian has set himself the challenge of completing a half distance Iron Man triathlon – that’s a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile cycle and 13.1 mile run. “I was lucky to live and certainly the odds were against me ever walking again. But after three months in hospital and two months at home in intense physio, I am so pleased to say I am on the road to recovery. I have definitely beaten the odds and used all of my nine lives! “I owe this to many teams within the health service, but the one that I am fundraising for is Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, as their fast actions I am convinced saved me from a much worse outcome,” says Adrian. Adrian and his wife, Lou, have already raised over £12,000 with many people supporting Adrian’s incredible journey. From hosting quiz nights and charity ride outs to fundraising at their nieces’ school, and his daughter shaving her hair earlier this year in aid of GWAAC – their fundraising has been a huge team effort. To follow Adrian’s journey and support his fundraising, visit: bit.ly/adrian-pearce

Right: Adrian’s cycle helmet after his accident

Have you been treated by GWAAC’s crew? Have you or someone you know received critical care from GWAAC? Whether you or your loved one were treated by our crew, or you’ve supported us in some way, your experience could inspire others. By sharing your story, you could encourage others to support their local air ambulance, allowing us to continue providing our service to those in need. If you would be happy to share your story, get in touch at www.gwaac.com/share-your-story

Helimed News Great Western Air Ambulance Charity Winter 2020/Spring 2021



We want to hear from you!

Christmas cards now on sale

We are reviewing how Helimed News could look in the future, and we would love to know what you think! Your feedback will help us identify who is reading this, so that we can give you more of what you want – and less of what you don’t!

Our new range of Christmas cards are available to buy online between September and December each year – get a head start on the festive season and let your family, friends and loved ones know you are thinking of them, whilst also helping us continue to be there for those in urgent need.

The survey will only take a few minutes of your time, and you can fill it out online at: www.bit.ly/gwaac-survey

Available online now from £3.29 for a pack of 10 www.gwaac.com/shop

CHANCE TO WIN! As a thank you for helping us, we are offering you the chance to enter into a prize draw for £25 of Love to Shop vouchers if you complete the survey by midnight on 7th December 2020 – find out more by completing the survey online now.

Helimed NEW

Summer 2020



Autumn Winter 2020


GWAAC on the frontline

Our latest updates How you’ve supported us Read stories from some of our inspirational patient s

Your Charity, Saving Lives Together

See our new critical care car s to Learn what it take become a Specialist al Care Paramedic in Critic


Lives Together Your Charity, Saving

Helimed News Donate online at www.gwaac.com and follow us on




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By ticking the box above, I confirm I am a UK taxpayer and understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year, it is my responsibility to pay any difference. Please notify the charity if you want to cancel this declaration, change your name or address or no longer pay sufficient tax on your income and/or capital gains. Find out more at www.gwaac.com/giftaid

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or to ‘Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, 3rd Floor, County Gates, Ashton Road, BS3 2JH’ and attach a stamp.

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Please pay Eazy Collect Re Air Ambulance from the account detailed in this instruction subject to the safeguards assured by the Direct Debit Guarantee. I understand that this instruction may remain with Eazy Collect Re Air Ambulance and, if so, details will be passed electronically to my Bank or Building Society.

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- This guarantee is offered by all Banks and Building Societies that accept instructions to pay Direct Debits. - If there are any changes to the amount, date or frequency of your Direct Debit, Eazy Collect Re Air Ambulance will notify you 10 days in advance of your account being debited or as otherwise agreed. If you request Eazy Collect Re Air Ambulance to collect a payment, confirmation of the amount and date will be given to you at the time of the request.

- If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit by either Eazy Collect Re Air Ambulance or your Bank or Building Society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your Bank or Building Society. If you receive a refund you are not entitled to, you must pay it back when Eazy Collect Re Air Ambulance asks you to. - You can cancel your Direct Debit at any time simply by contacting your Bank or Building Society. Written confirmation may be required. Please also notify us.

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Give a monthly gift to your local air ambulance £3 A


Could go towards specialist uniform for our crew


ny donation helps us to progress and make a difference to our local communities. However, regular giving enables us to plan more effectively for the future, giving us a more consistent and predictable income to ensure that money is available when it is needed the most. By making a regular donation, you are helping to ensure that our crew remain right here and ready for those in urgent need, now, and every month for the future.

With a regular direct debit donation, more of your money goes to our lifesaving work, as it generates less administration charges. A regular gift is a hassle-free way to donate, whilst knowing that you are helping save local lives.

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Could contribute to research into prehospital critical care

Set up a regular donation today You can set up a regular donation either: • Online at www.gwaac.com/donate • By filling out the paper form overleaf. Once completed, post the form back to one of the following addresses: FREEPOST GWAAC (this address will not require a stamp) Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, 3rd Floor, County Gates, Ashton Road, BS3 2JH (this address will require a stamp)

£10 A


Thank you

Could go towards lifesaving medical equipment

Thank you for keeping us flying


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Your messages and photos

@Emmeey Waking up to @GWAAC landing behind your house!

@Cleeve_School @bristolcathedral We were visited by @gwaac landing on College Green this afternoon as they responded to an emergency on Hotwell Road. We thank God for the work of our emergency services as they help those in the greatest need.

WOW, what a morning here at Cleeve! Thank you to @GWAAC Critical Care Team offering their time and knowledge inspiring our in-school provision students before they took off this morning. Thank you for your time and hard work keeping our communities safe. #GWAAC #nextgen

@hunnybee123 @GWAAC managed to get this picture today in Worle at castlebatch park.


@jcraviation @longashtonfc Fair to say this is the best defence that we’ve had in our box for a number of seasons.

Here we have G-GWAC a great western air ambulance landing at a local park (Landing reason is unknown) this was incredible to watch!

Hope all involved make a full recovery. Great to have the rapid response and teamwork by Police, Fire, Ambulance and Rescue teams arriving after 12 minutes of the incident happening. @GWAAC @MumblesRescue #999 #thankyou

We love receiving messages and photos of our helicopter, so keep them coming!

You can tweet us – @GWAAC, find us on Facebook – Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, Instagram - @GWAAC or email pr@gwaac.com. You never know, your comments could be featured in the next issue!

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