A new initiative to secure long-term funding for Wiltshire Air Ambulance is off to a flying start with more than 100 ‘friends’ having signed up to support the charity well into the future.

The Friends of Wiltshire Air Ambulance was launched last August. From just £2 a month, people can make a regular gift to the life-saving charity. The money is used to help buy equipment or kit for the helicopter, provide additional training for the air ambulance paramedics or fund essentials such as aviation fuel.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance recently signed a ten-year contract with Helicharter to supply a new state of the art Bell 429 helicopter which will come into service at the end of 2014, when the lease on the current 12-year-old aircraft expires and the current partnership with Wiltshire Police ends.

The new helicopter will cost the charity £2.5m a year.

One of the air ambulance’s first friends was the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Mr William Wyldbore-Smith of Bremhill near Calne.

He said: “I was delighted to see that Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust had felt confident to recently contract for a new helicopter, thereby securing this vital emergency resource for the county. Whenever I open a local paper, I read of community projects raising money for the Trust, which is so encouraging. I am pleased that the charity has passed the 100 friends mark, but it needs many more as that is the best way of securing core revenue. So well done, and here’s to the next 100 friends and many more.”

Cheryl Johnson, head of fundraising and development at the charity, said: “By becoming a friend of Wiltshire Air Ambulance and making a monthly donation, you will be providing the charity with regular, steady income, one that we can rely on. This will enable us to plan ahead and ensure that we can continue to keep saving as many lives as possible across the county. We are extremely grateful to our many new and valued friends who have already signed up to support their local air ambulance and its life-saving work.”

For a friends application form, call 01380 739453 or visit www.wiltshireairambu lance.co.uk.