A NEW initiative to secure long-term funding for Wiltshire Air Ambulance has got off to a flying start with more than 100 ‘Friends’ signing up to support the charity well into the future.

The Friends of Wiltshire Air Ambulance was launched last August. From just £2 per month, people can make a regular gift to the life-saving charity which is then used to help purchase equipment or kit for the helicopter, provide additional training for the air ambulance paramedics or fund essential items such as aviation fuel.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance recently signed a 10-year contract with Helicharter to supply a new state of the art Bell 429 helicopter which will come into service at the end of 2014, when the lease on the current 12-year-old aircraft expires and the current partnership with Wiltshire Police ends.

The new helicopter will cost the charity £2.5m a year.

One of the air ambulance’s first Friends was the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, William Wyldbore-Smith of Bremhill near Calne.

He said: “I am pleased that the charity has passed the 100 Friends mark, but it needs many more as that is the best way of securing core revenue.”

For a Friends application form call 01380 739453 or visit www.wiltshireairambulance.co.uk.