GUESTS gathered at Outmarsh Farm in Semington today to witness the official ground-breaking on the land which will be home to the new Wiltshire Air Ambulance Airbase.

Chief executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance David Philpott was joined by other members of the team and Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Sarah Troughton to mark the next step in the air ambulance’s future.

The Gazette and Herald, the Wiltshire Times and the Swindon Advertiser are backing the Airbase Appeal to raise the final £1.25 million which will pay for the airbase, bringing the charity's flying, administration and fundraising operations all together under one roof.

Mr Philpott joked: “I am happy to welcome the Lord Lieutenant for cutting the sod, but because that sounds like something from an East End gangster movie, we are just going to say breaking ground.

“We are also very happy for Mr and Mrs Stainer, whose land this is on, the 12 acres which will soon home the base. The new base will be 1,500 square feet and will be a two-storey building with a landing pad.

"One of the main things is that the people working here will be local and it will provide a life-saving service for people in the area.

“The total cost of the airbase is £5.1 million and I am happy to say we are 80 per cent of the way there. We received £2.75 million and then received £1 million from the banks and through the Airbase Appeal we can safely say we have already received another £251,000.

“I am delighted to be part of the ground breaking ceremony for Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s new airbase which marks the next phase in the charity’s history. Wiltshire Air Ambulance has been saving lives for 27 years and this wonderful custom-built airbase will enable the charity to continue its sterling and important work,” said Mrs Troughton, before using a spade to break the first official chunks of earth for the airbase building.

As well as representatives from Wiltshire Council and other local councils, ambassadors for Wiltshire Air Ambulance also attended the ceremony.

These included Corsham's Nick Mason, a founding member of Pink Floyd, who said: “It is a momentous occasion for the ground to be christened. It is a really good place for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance to call home and it doesn’t seem inconvenient for anyone in the local area.

"We really support the Air Ambulance, all of the work they do so save people’s lives.”

The airbase is being built by Melksham firm Rigg Construction, and work is expected to take 45 weeks, with the charity aiming to move into the base in spring 2018.

Chris Lear, chairman of WAA, said: “Now that the building work is underway on the airbase it’s more important than ever to support the appeal and raise the remaining funds to enable us to secure the future of our lifesaving service. There are lots of ways that you can get involved.”

To make a donation, or for more information on the appeal, visit