17-Jun-2016 Source: Wales Air Ambulance
Wales Air Ambulance has moved into the charity’s first owned home, after a 12-month project to build a new headquarters and airbase for its South Wales operation. The service has transferred the EC135 from its previous southern base at Swansea Airport and fundraising staff to a purpose-built facility at Llanelli Gate, Dafen and aircrews have started to operate from the new hangar.
Wales Air Ambulance chief executive Angela Hughes said: “To build a permanent home marks a new chapter for the charity, and it’s thanks to kind donations from people across Wales that we have been able to do this.”
Since its launch on St David’s Day 2001, the charity has responded to more than 23,000 missions. After 15 years of being split between two rented premises in Swansea, the move brings Wales Air Ambulance’s headquarters and South-based helicopter together on one site for the first time. The initiative will save the charity tens of thousands of pounds annually in reduced costs, including rent. Around £40,000 will be saved each year by having its own fuel supply.
“Having our own property will not only save us money which we can put straight into flying missions, but it also means we are future-proofing the service,” said Ms Hughes. “Our goal is to become a 24-hour operation, able to help people both day and night, and this new base brings us a step closer to reaching that goal.”
The airbase has been custom-built specifically for air ambulance operations, with the latest technology and facilities for aircrews. Service manager Mark Winter said: “We’ve worked with the construction team every step of the way to build a base that is designed especially for the needs of an air ambulance service. This includes room for medical equipment and training simulations, and facilities for night missions in the future.”
The charity launched an Airbase Appeal in July last year, calling for donations to help build the hangar and helipad. Carmarthenshire County Council welcomed the charity to the county with a grant from the European Regional Development Fund for the head office. Ms Hughes added: “I’d like to thank Carmarthenshire Council for their vital contribution, and the people of Wales for donating to our appeal. It is thanks to their donations we have come this far; we simply couldn’t fly without them. We are still calling for support for the Airbase Appeal throughout the summer, while we complete the site. We hope to soon welcome people to come and see our new home, as soon as the crew have settled in.”