Cambs medical charity Magpas in desperate plea for support

MAGPAS has today issued a desperate plea for funding as the charity which has saved lives across Cambridgeshire revealed it may be forced to close at the end of the month.

Despite the ongoing ‘one in a million’ campaign, fundraising for the Magpas Helimedix has stalled, leaving the charity resigned to closure at the beginning of January unless finances improve.

Daryl Brown, chief operating officer, said the news has come at a terrible time, with cold weather and dangerous road conditions wreaking havoc across the region.

“It’s crunch time,” said Mr Brown. “We are at the point where the money that we have will run out at the end of the month. I’m having to look at winding the charity up but I really hope it doesn’t come to that.

“This service is the difference between life and death for a lot of people. I have had grown men ring me up in tears thanking the charity for saving their lives.

“If we went it would be a disaster. This is very real now. We have actually got a doctor and a paramedic willing to work on Christmas Day but we might not have a helicopter for them to use.”

Air support to the charity was withdrawn by the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) last month, leaving the highly qualified team of Magpas volunteer medics scrambling for alternatives.

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The charity, which has already attended more than 750 incidents this year, is currently running by leasing a helicopter from a private company. Dwindling funds could mean the service has to be scrapped in a matter of weeks.

The High Sheriffs of Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire have today pledged their support to the cause after visiting the Magpas Helimedix base at RAF Wyton.

Nigel Brown, High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire, said: “It’s something I have known about for a long time and it’s particularly close to my heart.

“The ability to get to an incident so quickly seems to be the key to a brilliant service which can’t be allowed to stop. There’s no other service like it - it really couldn’t be replaced.

“Some of the parts of the county are so remote, with dangerous terrain including ditches and drains, so to have a service like that is even more vital.”

Richard Robinson, spokesman for the EAAA, said: “There’s an air ambulance based at Cambridge Airport with a fully qualified doctor and paramedic team.

“The people of Cambridgeshire need not have any concerns over ambulance cover - we will be running 365 days a year including Christmas Day.”

Magpas, which has cost about �550,000 to run this year, is the only dedicated air ambulance that runs at night. It has more than 50 volunteer medics, who, if they were paid at the standard rate, would be valued at almost �4million a year.

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