Throughout 2017, the Swindon Advertiser is backing a campaign by Wiltshire Air Ambulance to raise the remaining £1.25m needed to complete its new airbase at Semington.

Here is a message from the Wiltshire Air Ambulance

"We provide an essential Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) across Wiltshire and beyond. Over the last 26 years, Wiltshire Air Ambulance has flown more than 16,000 potentially lifesaving missions.

"We are called out approximately three times a day and in 2016 we flew 697 missions.  We fly up to 19 hours a day, 365 days a year.

"The air ambulance and its specialist aircrew can scramble in just two minutes and reach anywhere in Wiltshire within nine minutes. The speed of our helicopter, along with the skills of our critical care paramedics, can make the difference between life and death.

"We work alongside land ambulance crews and other emergency services to deliver the best medical care possible to anyone who lives, works or travels in Wiltshire. As well as our state-of-the-art Bell 429 helicopter we have two Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs) which we use when the helicopter cannot fly (such as in adverse weather conditions). We can only do what we do thanks to an amazing family of supporters and volunteers.

"Our aircrew, helicopter and equipment are currently housed in our Operations Centre at Police HQ in Devizes and the current lease and agreement with Wiltshire Police for this facility expires in December 2017. The lease on our administration fundraising office in Calne runs out in January 2018. Operating from two different sites has always been a short-term measure whilst we undertook the job of finding a site where we can create a new custom-built airbase.

"This will mean that for the first time in our history, our operational and charity teams will be together under one roof. This will not only improve the service we offer, but will save money longer term and make it possible for us to expand our services in the future.

"We have carefully considered all of the feasible options for relocating. For more than a year we searched for the right site and have found the perfect location – a 12.5-acre site at Outmarsh Farm, Semington. This is centrally located which means the air ambulance will still be able to reach all parts of Wiltshire in 11 minutes. We have already obtained full planning approval for this exciting project and we plan to start building in April 2017.

"Thanks to an incredibly generous donation by a long standing supporter, we are most of the way to raising the £5.1m we need to build our new airbase and equip it to the latest standards.  But we still need to raise £1.25m to complete the building and fit it out with medical and helicopter equipment, fixtures and fittings. This is on top of the £3.25m we need to raise every year to keep the air ambulance flying. It’s a big challenge and we really do need your help…now

"We have launched an Airbase Appeal to raise the remaining £1.25 million to build and equip our new airbase. 

"You can find out more how you can support the Airbase Appeal here.

"We really are funded by you and flying for you.''