A WHOPPING £17,000 has been raised by Wearside theatre audiences to help save North-East lives.
Audiences at the Sunderland Empire have been digging deep at every show over the past year to raise funds for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.
The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) operates three aircraft, and throughout this year has flown about 1,000 missions.
Every time a helicopter is called into action, it costs an estimated £2,500 – all of which is raised through donations from the public.
GNAAS is a charity and does not receive any Government funding towards the £4million needed to keep the ambulances flying.
Mark Robson is assistant general manager at the Sunderland Empire – which is in the grip of pantomime fever, with Cinderella until Sunday, January 5.
He thanked the theatre’s loyal audiences.
He said “We would like to thank everyone who has attended a show at the Sunderland Empire over the last 12 months and donated to this worthwhile cause.
“We’re delighted that even though money can be tight, our customers have been able to dig a little deeper and support the Great North Air Ambulance and the inspiring work that it does.”
Mandy Drake, head of fund-raising at GNAAS, said: “We would like to thank everyone at Sunderland Empire and all their patrons for helping raise this incredible amount.
“Put simply, this money will save lives in the region. We have to find the money to pay for everything from our fuel and medical supplies to the crew’s clothing and the aircraft themselves.
“We can only continue to do this because of this sort of phenomenal support. Thank you.”