News Hub

Plymouth Children’s Air Ambulance patient supports charity which celebrates 10 years of service

Plymouth Children’s Air Ambulance patient supports charity which celebrates 10 years of service

Former Children’s Air Ambulance patient from Plymouth is set to finish a Plymouth Half Marathon School’s Challenge to raise funds for the lifesaving charity as it celebrates 10 years of vital service.

James Berry was just four months old when he was transferred by helicopter from Leeds General Infirmary to Derriford Hospital, Plymouth to continue the specialist care he had been receiving since being born 17 weeks early weighing just 1lb 5oz.

The family were moving home to Plymouth but a 300-mile journey by ambulance or car was out of the question due to his fragile condition.

To travel from Leeds to Plymouth by road can take up to nine hours with traffic delays, so the safest and quickest option was to fly James with a specialist team from Embrace, Yorkshire & Humber Infant & Children’s Transport Service – one of the clinical partner teams that work with the Children’s Air Ambulance.

The flight took just two hours.

James’ mum Natalie is forever grateful that the Children’s Air Ambulance was available to transfer her son. She says: “It will always have a special place in our hearts.”

Since his flight onboard the Children’s Air Ambulance in June 2014, James has celebrated nine birthdays and has thrown himself into life.

James has been trying hard at school and becoming a brilliant mathematician, he loves to write and illustrate stories and enjoys family walks with his beloved spaniel, Pippa – amongst many other things.

“James’ favourite sport is rugby, and he plays for Plymouth Argaum. He is very proud of his team, and he has wonderful coaches,” says Natalie. “The team have decided to support the Children’s Air Ambulance and Shine charities, as they both hold something special for his team. James is very proud to play rugby with TCAA on the front of his shirt.”

More recently – as TCAA celebrates 10 years of vital transfer missions – James, and his friends, Jayden and Lucas, have decided to raise funds for the charity through the school’s Half Marathon Challenge.

Running weekly, the friends are set to finish their brilliant challenge at the Plymouth Half Marathon this Sunday 14 May. With his target set at £700, James is asking for kind donations through his JustGiving page, to support the charity so close to his heart.

“To us, TCAA meant we had a safe way to move to be close to our support network, so his father Ian could start his new job and so we could start our life as a family in Plymouth. We do not know how long that wait would have been if we had had to wait until James was strong enough to travel by land, or if Ian’s job would have waited that long,” explains Natalie.

“The Children’s Air Ambulance means a lot to me because if it didn’t exist, I would have been stuck in Leeds for ages! Also, I am the only nine-year-old I know who has been in a helicopter and that’s cool,” adds James.

Community Fundraising Executive for TCAA, Fiona Franklin, recently visited James and his friends and adds, “James is a remarkable young man, and what he and his friends have accomplished to raise funds for our charity is wonderful, and it’s especially poignant as TCAA celebrates 10 years of service.

“We are a charity which receives no government funding, so we’d like to thank James, Jayden and Lucas for their efforts, and encourage people to support by donating to James’ JustGiving page here.”