Sunderland mum’s efforts for Great North Air Ambulance

LIFE-SAVERS: Julie Reay with Derek Robe and Karen Thompson handing over the cheque for  �4,500 to Jim Entwistle from the Great North Air Ambulance.
LIFE-SAVERS: Julie Reay with Derek Robe and Karen Thompson handing over the cheque for �4,500 to Jim Entwistle from the Great North Air Ambulance.
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JETTING through the sky at 180mph, the Great North Air Ambulance is on a mission to save lives.

Its speed and ability to manoeuvre over tough terrain means it can often reach catastrophes a lot quicker than a regular road ambulance, potentially making the difference between a fatality and a success story.

It is for this reason that Barnes mum Julie Reay chose to help the charity.

The 46-year-old is herself no stranger to tragedy after losing son Peter, 13, to a rope swing accident at Galley’s Gill, Sunderland riverside, in 2003.

But, channelling her grief, Peter’s name lives on in the tens of thousands of pounds Julie has raised for local charities over the years through the Peter David Lane Trust fund.

To thank Julie for raising £4,500 for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), she was invited along to have a look around the helicopter, which services the North East from its base in Durham Tees Valley Airport, and meet its pilots and paramedics.

“For Julie to raise this amount in three months is phenomenal,” said Jim Entwistle, media communications manager.

“It will pay for two missions, so will potentially save two lives, we can’t thank her enough.

“We do get a lot of support from the public, which we are so grateful for, especially in the current economic climate.”

The helicopter is one of two used by the service, the other is based in Penrith, Cumbria.

It was bought from former Newcastle United and England star Michael Owen.

His plush leather seats and bar were stripped away to utilise every available space in the aircraft for life-saving equipment.

Jim added: “This helicopter provides cover from the Scottish borders to North Yorkshire.

“It’s used for serious traumas which could be an road traffic accident, industrial accidents or falls. We also do a lot of work in rural areas.

“The helicopter is used if incidents are of such a serious nature that a doctor is needed, or if the ambulance service would take too long to take the person to the appropriate hospital.

“Having the doctor on board means the patient can get more advance treatments – the kind of treatment they would get in A&E is transported to them.”

Although air ambulances are paid for by the NHS in Scotland, they are run as a charity in England and Wales.

In this region, the life-saving aircraft flies patients from Wearside and further afield to the helipads at the main trauma centres: Newcastle’s RVI, James Cook University Hospital and University Hospital of North Tees.

Jim said: “We work hard to get the message across that we are entirely reliant on the good nature of the public. We receive no Government or National Lottery funding.

“It’s good in a way as it means we have complete autonomy, but on the other hand it means that if people don’t donate money, the aircraft can’t fly.”

The biggest single source of funds is from The Trading Company, which operates the GNAAS’s charity bags which are filled with clothes and collected from people’s homes.

These are shipped to Poland and sold as good quality second-hand clothing, bringing in £600,000 a year.

This amount funds the charity’s administration, freeing up money raised through collection tins and other donations to pay for the running of the air ambulance.

{,Click here,Visit the air ambulance website} to learn more about the charity’s work.