THEY are a common sight in the skies over Swindon and beyond, descending like angels from above to assist those in life-threatening danger.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s heroic pilots and paramedics have saved countless lives around the county over the last three decades and hope to do so for many more years to come

The vital service became a charity in 2015 and relies on receiving millions of pounds a year in generous donations to keep its yellow and green helicopter up and running.

As its 30th year begins, we’re calling on our readers to rally round and support the cause.

Chief executive David Philpott said: “The crews serving on Wiltshire Air Ambulance have saved a generation of people.

“As a result, those people have gone on to have children, welcome siblings, cousins, nephews and nieces into the world or become grandparents.

“Wiltshire Air Ambulance is part of the fabric of the county and the public understand the importance of our service.

“In our rural communities, the speed of our helicopter and the expertise of our pilots, specialist paramedics and doctors have made the difference between life and death.

“Throughout our existence, we have been funded by donations and we are truly thankful to everyone who has supported our charity. Every donation enables us to keep our lifesaving service operational.

“We’ve saved lives for 30 years and, with the help of our supporters, we want to be here to save the next generation.”

Inspirational tales of lifesaving feats will be shared every month as the air ambulance celebrates this milestone anniversary.

For its anniversary year, Wiltshire Air Ambulance has planned a series of fundraising events to help meet its £3.75 million annual operating costs. It receives no government funding or National Lottery grants.

The idea for a joint emergency services helicopter came about in 1988, when a temporary helicopter hired by Wiltshire Police to use for its Stonehenge summer solstice operation was used to airlift a woman seriously injured in a road traffic collision on the A350 to hospital.

A year later, the police hired a helicopter for an extended period of three months and invited Wiltshire Ambulance Service to provide a paramedic to be part of the trial.

This successful experiment led to a full-time joint emergency services helicopter which first flew on March 15, 1990 from Wiltshire Police headquarters in Devizes.

This joint helicopter partnership came to an end in December 2014 with the establishment of the National Police Air Service and Wiltshire Air Ambulance then became a stand-alone air ambulance and charity on January 9 2015.

In May 2018, a state-of-the-art airbase in Semington, near Melksham, opened. From there, the Bell 429 helicopter can reach all parts of Wiltshire within 11 minutes. Paramedics also use rapid response vehicles to respond to emergencies.

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