From the threat of closure to the Pride of Britain: London’s Air Ambulance launches digital timeline to mark 28 years saving lives in the capital

  • London’s Air Ambulance launches timeline telling story of the charity

The timeline shows the highs and lows of the charity, including its battles against adversity – from financial struggles to doubts about its potential to save lives.

Through archive press coverage, images, letters, videos and reports, the fight to establish the service to save patients detailed in the timeline.

  • Mayor of London Sadiq Khan: “London’s Air Ambulance has made an incredible contribution to emergency care in the capital over the past 28 years. The Air Ambulance teams work tirelessly every day to respond to people in critical need of medical help and I hope Londoners will continue to support them so this vital service is maintained for many more years to come.”
  • Donate at londonsairambulance.co.uk/donate

London’s Air Ambulance, the charity that delivers a 24/7 advanced trauma team to critically injured people in London, marks its 28th anniversary with the release of a digital timeline telling the story of the charity and how, if it wasn’t for a pioneering group of people and the generosity of the London public, the charity, that was recognised recently with a Pride of Britain award, may not have existed at all.

As with many great innovations, the service came to life with a casual encounter of like-minded individuals, its foundations conceived during a tennis match. The timeline shows the highs and lows of the charity, including its battles against adversity – from financial struggles to doubts about its potential to save lives.

When the concept of the air ambulance was challenged, London’s Air Ambulance’s patients and their families were often the first to come to the service’s defence in the press, sharing their stories in a show of support. In 1993, Paul Montgomery, who was saved after a road traffic collision in Slough, approached the media with a 650- name petition against cuts, saying “it would be criminal” to scrap the emergency medical helicopter service which brought benefit to the emergency services.

Thanks to the relentless dedication of staff support from the London Ambulance Service and Barts Health NHS Trust and with the generosity of the public and a range of organisations, London’s Air Ambulance emerged stronger than ever and has now established itself as one of London’s most beloved charities and a vital part of London’s emergency infrastructure, respected across the world for its innovation and education in pre-hospital care.

Dr Gareth Davies, London’s Air Ambulance Medical Director, commented:

The charity owes its existence to the vision and determination of Richard Earlam and Alastair Wilson, consultants at the Royal London Hospital, and to Andrew Cameron and Lord Stevens of the Daily Express. Without their foresight and resilience, the charity would not be here today.”

Through archive press coverage, images, letters, videos and reports, the fight to establish the service to save patients who were dying unnecessarily from traumatic injuries is detailed in the timeline. London’s Air Ambulance has attended and helped coordinate the medical response to many of the capital’s major incidents, including train crashes and bombings. On the day of the Bishopsgate Bombing, London’s Air Ambulance happened to be followed by a film crew for the ITV documentary series ‘Blues and Twos’ and the charity’s response was captured on camera, showing the unpredictable nature of the team’s daily work.

Responding to the release of the timeline Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said:

London’s Air Ambulance has made an incredible contribution to emergency care in the capital over the past 28 years. The Air Ambulance teams work tirelessly every day to respond to people in critical need of medical help and I hope Londoners will continue to support them so this vital service is maintained for many more years to come.”

In 1989 London’s Air Ambulance flew its first mission, delivering organs for transplant to Scotland. In the intervening 28 years, London’s Air Ambulance has treated over 35,500 patients, many of whom may not have survived or been able to return to the lives they had before.

Speaking today for the first time is one of those patients, Yael, who was 15 when she was hit by a car on her way to school. She recalls her accident, which occurred 26 years ago, and explains what London’s Air Ambulance means to her:

I wouldn’t have survived if it wasn’t for London’s Air Ambulance. I lost four pints of blood, I had water on my lungs, broke my leg in several places and broke my shoulder. The shattered glass had also done lots of damage. It was so bad that the police told my school I was a fatality.”

I give to charity and I think the key thing with charities is that people like to see where their money is going. With London’s Air Ambulance you can see that. I am here. My three children are here.

Until this day, people in my parent’s neighbourhood remember the day and how my accident stopped the traffic. Now I am a driver and a mother myself. When I get stuck in traffic with my family, I always say ‘Thank God we are just in the traffic, not the cause of the traffic.’

I tell my kids that the reason I survived is so that I could have them and so that they could be really good people. I owe my life to London’s Air Ambulance.”

Dr Gareth Davies went on to say:

It is without a doubt that London’s Air Ambulance is here due to the pioneering determination of our founders and the support and generosity of the people of London. On behalf of all our patients and their loved ones, we are truly grateful and hope you share in the pride of all that we have achieved together.

Trauma or serious injury is the most common cause of death for people aged under 45, including children, in Britain. I urge everyone to continue to support the charity. Without you, we can’t help these people.”

Commenting on the release Chairman of London’s Air Ambulance Mark Vickers said:

The timeline shows the extraordinary effort and determination of a dedicated group of pioneers, advocates and supporters, whose contributions have been crucial in getting this extraordinary charity where it is today. I would like to say thank you to all the people who have served and supported us so faithfully over the past 28 years. From the medics, pilots and fire crew to the charity staff and volunteers, from our individual, corporate and institutional supporters to our partners Barts Health NHS Trust and London Ambulance Service – thank you for your unstinting support.”

To donate £5 to London’s Air Ambulance charity text SAVE to 70800