WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance, which has been hit by licensing problems which have grounded its helicopter, had some good news this week when it was announced that the Duchess of Cornwall is to continue her patronage of the charity.

The Duchess has been Patron of Wiltshire Air Ambulance since July 2009.

In December 2018 The Duchess officially opened the charity’s new airbase at Semington, near Melksham, where she met guests including former patients whose lives were saved, celebrity ambassadors as well as pilots, paramedics, trustees and charity staff.

Chairman of trustees at Wiltshire Air Ambulance Chris Lear, said: “Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall has always taken a keen interest in our charity and we are delighted that she has extended her patronage.

“The Duchess first visited Wiltshire Air Ambulance in December 2008 when it shared a helicopter with Wiltshire Police at its base in Devizes and the following year she became our Patron.

“Our progression to being a stand-alone air ambulance with our own helicopter culminated with the move to our new airbase at Semington and we were honoured that The Duchess officially opened it last December.

“Our charity is well supported by the public, businesses, schools and grant making trusts and we are really pleased to have the continued backing of The Duchess.“

At the official opening of the charity’s airbase The Duchess said she greeted the charity’s Bell 429 helicopter with a “cheery wave” every time it flew over her home and adding that “Wiltshire is particularly lucky to have a very, very special air ambulance.”

On extending her patronage with Wiltshire Air Ambulance HRH said: “I am proud to be Patron of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust. It provides a vital emergency service to the people of Wiltshire and can make the difference between life and death.”

The charity confirmed last week that its air ambulance remains grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority while the charity waits for its own Air Operators Certificate to be awarded.

Despite successful flight inspections in August, the delay has cost the charity thousands of pounds to hire a back-up helicopter. It took the decision to cancel the hire arrangement in the expectation that the new certificate would be quickly granted after the successful inspection.

The WAA said ot was left "extremely frustrated" by the wait but is still responding to medical emergencies using its own rapid response vehicles.