Magpas Air Ambulance has launched a two-year appeal to raise £1.5 million and bring a new state-of-the-art helicopter to the region.

The new aircraft will be able to fly further, faster and allow the lifesaving service to reach an even greater number of patients.

The current Magpas Air Ambulance MD 902 Explorer entered service 17 years ago and has been with the charity, which is based in Huntingdon, since June 2012.

Whilst the current model has flown to thousands of patients over the last seven years and has helped the charity respond to its highest number of activations ever, in 2017; it is now coming to the end of its operational life.

Following intensive research, Magpas says it has selected a AugustaWestland 169 (AW169) helicopter, to become the new Magpas Air Ambulance.

Daryl Brown, chief executive of Magpas, said: “We are asking people to help make a lifesaving difference in their community by supporting our Further, Faster, Greater Appeal to bring this next generation helicopter to Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Bedfordshire and beyond.

“The new AW169 can fly further and will be able to carry enough fuel for our enhanced doctor and paramedic team to fly for more than three hours without refuelling. It is also a faster aircraft and will enable us to fly to a greater number of patients.”

The charity's medical director, Dr Simon Lewis, said: “This new aircraft will provide Magpas with the most technologically advanced features and medical equipment, better enabling the medical teams to respond to our patients in their moment of need.”

Dr Lewis added: “We urgently need support from the communities within which we serve, to raise £1.5 million, in order to bring this next generation helicopter to the East of England by the summer of 2019 - with the Further, Faster, Greater Appeal continuing into 2020 to raise funds for ongoing running costs.”

The Further, Faster, Greater Appeal was launched by two Magpas Air Ambulance former patients in front of an audience of more than 250 people, during an event at Abbots Ripton Hall last Thursday. Guests heard first-hand accounts of the lifesaving difference the charity makes and why it needs the new air ambulance.

To find out how you can support the Further, Faster, Greater Appeal for a new Magpas Air Ambulance visit: magpas.org.uk. You can make a donation online at: magpas.org.uk/heli-appeal, or by texting HELI19 to 70070 (you can donate either £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 and can donate up to £30 a day). follow our campaign on twitter via @Magpas_Charity utilising our Heli Appeal Hashtag #FurtherFasterGreater.