Magpas Air Ambulance celebrated the arrival of its new helicopter, an Augusta Westland 169.
The helicopter flew from Magpas's operation base in Huntingdon onto four locations across the region to mark the occasion: firstly near Downham Market, in Norfolk; Parker's Piece, in Cambridge; Newmarket Academy, in Suffolk; and Priory Country Park, in Bedfordshire.
Amongst the crowds were former patients who have survived life-threatening injuries as well as school pupils and staff, businesses and individuals who have fundraised for the charity.
Those present were given a close up experience of the new helicopter, which officially entered service on May 1.
The helicopter was piloted by Magpas chief pilot, Captain Richard Eastwood and technical crew member Rob Davies, with Magpas medical director Dr Simon Lewis and clinical operations manager Andy Smith, also on board.
The new helicopter will enable the charity to go further, faster, to an even greater number of patients; providing lifesaving care in Cambridgeshire, Peterborough, Bedfordshire, and beyond.
One of the many people who appreciates the vital difference the charity makes is Robert Kerr, dad of former patient and speedway rider Lewis Kerr.
Robert said: “My son had an accident in 2015 in Peterborough when he was knocked off his bike and suffered a serious head injury. Magpas flew in with their specialist medical team. Lewis wasn't breathing - the doctor and paramedic put him into a medically induced coma on the track and got him off to Addenbrooke's Hospital. Ten days later he walked out, so we'll all be eternally grateful”.
Lewis' mum, Jane Kerr, said: “I would have loved to have gotten onto that helicopter with Lewis but there wasn't enough room at the time. So to know this helicopter is bigger and a parent can go now means everything because children are frightened in that time and so is everyone else, you don't want to be separated. It means absolutely everything to me. I just want to say thank you to Magpas Air Ambulance for everything they've done, I'll be eternally grateful, because our son wouldn't be here without them.”
Magpas Medical Director, Doctor Simon Lewis, said: “With the new aircraft, we can now get to patients much quicker and we're able to carry more medical kit too.”