STABLE groom Luna Neale, who owes her life to Wiltshire Air Ambulance, has paid tribute to the service which last week celebrated its 27th anniversary.
Miss Neale, of Corsham, was airlifted by Wiltshire Air Ambulance after she was kicked in the head by a horse on 22 March 2000 near Chippenham.
Miss Neale, who at the time was 22, suffered a fractured skull and surgeons removed the broken pieces of skull and fitted two metal plates in place.
Miss Neale has recovered well but she has no feeling in two of the fingers in her right hand which is as a result of paralysis caused by the fracture.
She fundraises for Wiltshire Air Ambulance – her next event is a masked ball on June 9 in Corsham - and is backing their new airbase at Semington, near Melksham, which will bring together the helicopter, aircrew and charity team.
She said: “The journey to the Royal United Hospital in the air ambulance was quick and smooth and that is what saved my life. I feel ever so proud every time I see the air ambulance or hear it in the air. It’s so vital to our community and it’s fantastic that the people of Wiltshire fund it.
”I’ve done a variety of fundraising events for them and the support I get from the Charity Team is amazing. To have them and the operational crew on the same site at the new airbase will make running the charity so much easier.”
Wiltshire Air Ambulance has saved countless lives since it began operating in March 1990, firstly as a joint helicopter with Wiltshire Police and then becoming a stand-alone air ambulance using the state-of-the-art Bell 429 helicopter in January 2015.
In total it has flown over 16,000 missions and when the helicopter is unable to fly, due to weather restrictions or maintenance, its paramedics use a Rapid Response Car.
Paramedic Ian Pothecary worked on Wiltshire Air Ambulance in the early 1990s and says the transformation of it to a stand-alone operation is hugely beneficial for patients.
Ian, who lives in Semington and does occasional shifts on Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “The people of Wiltshire are so fortunate to have such a service in their county. Not only does the aircraft offer rapid deployment of Critical Care Paramedics, with specialist equipment, to an emergency, but with the introduction of regional trauma centres for seriously injured patients the helicopter can transport them there quickly.”
Cheryl Johnson, Head of Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s Airbase Appeal, said: “Louise and Ian’s stories illustrate just how important Wiltshire Air Ambulance is for the people of Wiltshire. It’s humbling to think that over the last 27 years this vital service has attended more than 16,000 potentially lifesaving missions.
“Our new airbase will ensure that the air ambulance can continue to save lives for many more years to come.”