September 28, 2008

Proud Jennie Launches County’s New Life Saver


South Devon's jungle celebrity Jennie Bond was on hand to launch the new high speed tool in Devon Air Ambulance's arsenal.

Its call sign G-DVAA may sound bland but the new helicopter is set to give a dramatic boost to the mercy air link from incidents to hospital across Devon.

Former BBC royal correspondent Jennie from East Prawle, who raised more than pounds260,000 for the air ambulance, was its first passenger.

As it landed beside its sister helicopter at Dunchideock in Exeter, Jennie said: "I'm knocked out by the helicopter.

"First of all I think it's drop dead gorgeous. I love the blue.

"It's a wonderful smooth ride. It's fast, modern and, what's more, it's ours."

In a tribute to Jennie's contribution to the charity, her name is inscribed on the bodywork below the main rotor.

She said: "I'm proud that I've been able to help in some small way. But I'm just a part of a vast wheel which has created more than pounds3million to buy this baby and it's such a brilliant commitment by the people of Devon."

Ann Thomas effectively founded DAAT 16 years ago after her son Ceri was killed in a road accident.

Now living in the Cayman Islands, she still has a keen interest and involvement with the charity and flew in especially for the launch.

"I couldn't miss this and I am so proud that Ceri's name is on the helicopter," she said. "After Ceri was killed, I asked the surgeon what could have saved him. He said - an air ambulance."

Ann decided that Devon needed one urgently and started her campaign. In the early stages, she borrowed an air ambulance which landed in six Devon locations including Exeter Cathedral's green. It was with some emotion that she watched the first helicopter to be owned by the air ambulance service landing in Dunchideock.

"Now we can provide a life saving facility that is top notch, seven days per week," she added.

(c) 2008 Herald Express (Torquay UK). Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.