Sussex family are guests of honour at Lambeth Palace launch
A family from Sussex were the guests of honour at an event at Lambeth Palace, London organised by The Children’s Air Ambulance (TCAA) to launch the charity’s new aircraft.
The Children’s Air Ambulance is the first and only dedicated paediatric and neonatal transfer helicopter service in the country which was there at the Shelley family’s hour of need in February, when 7-year-old Buzz urgently needed to be flown between hospitals to receive lifesaving specialist care.
Buzz has a very rare genetic disorder, Leopard Syndrome, which has resulted in him being an intensive care patient six times since he was born. He suffers regular episodes of croup and is very vulnerable to chest infections.
Buzz had 15 months without a croup episode when – in March this year – he developed another chest infection. The coughing and laboured breathing started again and he ended up in his local hospital in Hastings.
But Buzz needed to be transferred urgently to Evelina London Children’s Hospital for specialist care which is where the Children’s Air Ambulance was able to help.
Mum Melissa flew with Buzz utilising the helicopter’s new parent seat and they arrived at Evelina in just over 25 minutes, a journey that has previously taken two hours by road in a land ambulance.
The Shelley family were guests of honour at the royal event where they all got a close look at the bespoke helicopter that Buzz flew on. They also had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the charity’s celebrity ambassadors Dr. Ranj, Brian May, Anita Dobson, David and Frankie Seaman – to name just a few.
Since 2012 TCAA has been operating out of the Midlands with one aircraft. The decision to provide two helicopters at bases in the north and south of Great Britain has already enabled the charity to respond to more transfer requests; completing nearly 100 missions since they went into operation late last year, and with a target to complete 300 missions a year.
Welcoming the introduction of the new aircraft, charity Patron Sarah, The Duchess of York, said: “The Children’s Air Ambulance is an important charity which helps save the lives of so many babies and young children like Buzz. These aircraft make a real difference to these young patients when speed can be the difference between life and death.
“Without transfer by helicopter there could have been very different outcomes to the lives of those saved by the service and their many stories are a testament to that fact.
“I know the introduction of a second helicopter will help the charity to reach even more children across the country but to ensure they can continue this lifesaving work it is important that donations keep coming in.”
Also commenting on the transfer service, Buzz’s mum Melissa said, “Once we took off and flew over the A21 and M25 I could see the heavy traffic and I knew we would get to the hospital much quicker than by road.
“We are so grateful to the Children’s Air Ambulance for getting us to the specialist hospital so quickly. We live on the south coast and the roads are so heavily congested so to know we can be at the Evelina in around 20 minute is a huge comfort.
“A massive thank you to everyone involved.”
The Agusta Westland 169 aircraft are based at Doncaster Sheffield and London Oxford airports. The bespoke equipment on-board includes a specially designed stretcher system and clinical interior, incubator and extra seat for a parent to be able to accompany their child. These state of the art facilities make the helicopters second to none in the provision of paediatric and neonatal transfers.