Posts Tagged ‘Almondsbury Helibase’

Royal official opening for Almondsbury helibase

Posted on Thursday 28th November 2019 at 8:46 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of a large group of attendees standing in front of the air ambulance.

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) welcomed His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester to officially open their new purpose-built emergency operations base in Almondsbury on Wednesday 25th September.

Moving to the new site, located alongside the M4/M5 motorway interchange, was a huge milestone for the life-saving charity, which celebrated its tenth birthday last year.

GWAAC’s Critical Care Team moved into their new home in October 2018, after a successful capital appeal raised £1.3 million needed to purchase the site and secure the future of the charity’s operations.

During his visit, His Royal Highness met a range of people who all made last year’s purchase possible, from charity staff and operational crew to supporters, trustees, patrons and volunteers.

Amongst some of the 80 guests were also members of the South Western Air Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) and Babcock Mission Critical Services, who provide the charity’s helicopter, Helimed 65.

Photo of The Duke meeting former patient Ali Layard.

The Duke was given a tour of the new facilities, which culminated in the hangar, where he unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the official opening and met a former patient of GWAAC, Ali Layard and the specialist paramedic who attended to him, Pete Sadler.

The Duke gave a speech to guests after unveiling the plaque, saying:

“It’s great to see such a splendid building which has all the equipment you need to do such an important job. It’s clear to see how passionate everyone here is about the charity and all the important work that it does.”

More: Police helicopter also uses the Almondsbury base »

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Air ambulance and police chopper now operating out of new Almondsbury base

Posted on Saturday 1st December 2018 at 8:29 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of GWAAC crew with air ambulance G-GWAC on the apron of the new Almondsbury air base

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) has taken up tenancy of a new air base in Almondsbury. The move is a huge milestone for the charity, which had previously been operating from a hangar at the former Filton Airfield.

The air ambulance has been joined at the new site by the local police helicopter, which was also previously based at Filton.

In a move which would ensure stability for the life-saving charity, the landlords of the new base have offered GWAAC the opportunity to purchase the facility at a significantly reduced price.

GWAAC chief executive Anna Perry explains:

“We’re thrilled to have moved into the new air base at Almondsbury, however with our current tenancy agreement we could be asked to leave again after ten years. This could be extremely disruptive to our service. Owning our air base will ensure we can continue to carry out our life-saving work well into the future. It’s unlikely we will have the opportunity to buy a facility like this again.”

Earlier this year, GWAAC launched an urgent appeal to help them raise the additional £1.25 million needed to fund the purchase. They are half-way towards their target, but still have a long way to go. As a charity they rely on generous donations from members of the public to stay operational. Excitingly, if they can raise another £315,000 then a generous local organisation has pledged to double this money!

More: Almondsbury-based police helicopter is operational 24/7/365 »

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Work starts on new helibase at Almondsbury

Posted on Thursday 14th December 2017 at 8:32 pm by SH (Editor)

Photo of groundbreaking ceremony.

Work is now under way to build a new air operations base for the air ambulance and police helicopter on a green belt site near the Almondsbury Interchange.

The new helibase will serve the needs of the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) and National Police Air Service (NPAS), whose helicopters are currently based at a site on the former Filton Airfield.

The new site will feature a hangar, a grassed final approach and take-off strip, a car park and a new access road off the A38 (from a point between Almondsbury Sports & Social Club and the Swan Inn).

Planning permission for the new helibase was granted in August 2016, despite fierce opposition by some nearby residents in Almondsbury and north Bradley Stoke, who objected on the grounds of unjustified development of green belt land, potential noise pollution, and the possibility of motorists being distracted by aircraft movements.

BAE Systems purchased the land in Almondsbury for use by GWAAC and NPAS as part of its proposed scheme to redevelop the former Filton Airfield site. The defence company has since sold the Filton site to Malaysia-based conglomerate YTL.

Speaking after a ground breaking ceremony held at the site on 8th November, Russ Woolford, assistant operations director for NPAS, said:

“Today is a significant milestone in the base move from Filton to Almondsbury as construction works begins.”

“The base at Almondsbury will be part of the national, borderless network of 15 NPAS bases from which our crews support local police forces to keep communities safe.”

Anna Perry, GWAAC chief executive said:

“Everyone at GWAAC is pleased that work is beginning. The charity is desperately in need of a modern air base and this great location will mean that even when we cannot fly, our doctors and paramedics can get to patients quickly in our Critical Care Car.”

More: Both helicopters are expected to relocate in autumn 2018 »

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Double celebration for air ambulance charity

Posted on Monday 23rd January 2017 at 9:13 am by SH (Editor)

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.

Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) had cause to celebrate the biggest week in its history at the end of November, when it received final confirmation of planning permission for a new helicopter operations base at a site near the Almondsbury Interchange and learned that a £1 million grant was heading its way.

GWAAC chief executive John Christensen said:

“Finding a new base has been a long journey for us, and I am glad that it is now finally over, and we can begin work. Our main focus has been to find a site that is easily accessible both by helicopter and car, and the Almondsbury site was the only viable option. I am pleased that we will have a modern base that will ensure that we can continue to provide this life-saving service.”

A new modern hanger will be built, which will house the GWAAC helicopter alongside the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter. This hanger will be a significant upgrade on the current hanger at Filton Airfield, which was built during the First World War and is one of the oldest surviving hangers in the UK. It will finally allow the charity to operate out of a building that is fit for purpose.

GWAAC has been based on Filton Airfield since its first flight in 2008. However, the airfield is now being redeveloped, which meant that the charity needed a new home to operate from. Work is set to begin on the new base for GWAAC and NPAS early in 2017, and the charity hopes to be operational from the site by the end of the year.

The news about the base came just days after GWAAC received a £1 million one-off grant from the government’s Libor funds. The grant was one of a number announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond on 23rd November as part of his autumn statement.

The 2012 Libor rate fixing scandal involved a series of fraudulent transactions connected to the Libor, or London Interbank Offered Rate. HM Treasury subsequently agreed to donate some of the fines imposed on financial institutions in the wake of the scandal to be used to support military and emergency services charities.

More: Helibase decision made, quashed and then remade »

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