Magpas celebrates 35 years of service

LIFE hangs by a thread. The 17-year-old girl would have died. She was the last passenger on the top deck of a bus and she had stopped breathing after a mixture of alcohol and drugs. But it was the last bus and the driver went upstairs to check that there

LIFE hangs by a thread. The 17-year-old girl would have died. She was the last passenger on the top deck of a bus and she had stopped breathing after a mixture of alcohol and drugs.

But it was the last bus and the driver went upstairs to check that there was no one there. Finding the unconscious girl, he called Magpas. The young girl's life was saved, not by a doctor or a paramedic on duty, but by a First Responder, a member of the public, trained by the charity to give first aid.

Magpas, which marked its 35th birthday on Monday, was founded in 1971 by two GPs.

Dr Neville Silverston and Dr Derek Cracknell were each presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at Monday's party. Last year, the charity, first on the scene at road accidents, heart attacks and bizarre accidents like teenagers impaled on railings, won The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

Dr Silverston said that all his life he had been inspired by something he had heard at the age of seven, a quote from President Roosevelt.

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory nor defeat".

Most Read

When Magpas started, Cambridgeshire was divided into four counties, including Huntingdonshire, the Soke of Peterborough and the diocese of Ely. Magpas was called The Mid Anglia GP Accident Service, after the only body that covered the lot - the Mid Anglia Police Force.

Magpas began with the support of the police, the four medical officers of health for each county and 108 GPs. It now has 25 doctors and 21 paramedics who work in teams of two and 300 First Responders based in villages across Cambridgeshire.

Other awards were given at the party, at the Footlights restaurant in the Grafton Centre, Cambridge.

Chelsea Burgess, aged 12, from Cherry Hinton, Cambridge was Young Supporter of the Year after raising £578 for a week-long sponsored silence, in memory of her father who had died in a road accident.

Volunteer of the Year was Trevor Van-Kleef from Ramsey. He is a community first responder and group co-ordinator. He also manages data for the research programme Cambridgeshire Trauma Audit Research Project. This collates incident details from police, ambulance and fire brigade to see what can be improved.

The award for the highest fundraisers went to Barry and Frances Hedger who since 1996 have raised £81,000 for Magpas with the Cottenham Road Run. Dr Pam Kenny, from Shelford, as one of the founding Magpas GPs and former chairman, won an award in recognition of her commitment.

The present chairman, Wisbech GP, Dr David Bevan, said the charity offered the best immediate care in the world, leading in technology, treatment and innovation.

"We do very scary things to very sick people in very difficult circumstances."

He added that everything Magpas teams did, how they travelled to an emergency, the vehicle they used, the route they took, the treatment they gave, the hospital they took the patient to, came under intense scrutiny. Everything was constantly measured and assessed in a continual striving for improvement.

No where else in the National Health Service were things examined, analysed and honed to this level, he said.

The birthday party raised £6,500 with an auction and other funds with a raffle.

So far, Magpas has been involved in 50,000 rescues. In Cambridgeshire, the thread of life is a little bit stronger.

INFORMATION: The event was sponsored by Harleys Estates Agents, weprint4less.co.uk, Robert Sayle, cambs-PAT portable appliance testing, Ringway, Cambridge Building Society, Lee Associates, W & M Morris Charitable Trust, Bellmans Bakery, the LEL Club and The Balloon Man.

Magpas is at 105 Needingworth Road, St Ives. 01480 371060. See www.magpas.org.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter