Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Charity trekkers complete Kilimanjaro challenge

Photo, L-R: Scott and Brett pictured at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro with an Air Ambulance banner

Two friends have successfully completed their challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, raising almost £10,000 for Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.

Brett Coleman and Scott Fegan, from Ashington, accomplished their feat despite Brett almost succumbing to altitude sickness.

Brett, 35, had previously completed two marathons in two weeks as part of their fundraising but nothing could prepare him for trekking to the top of the world’s tallest freestanding mountain.

He said: “It was definitely one of the hardest challenges I've ever done and the feeling of getting to the summit at sunrise was out of this world.

“I almost succumbed to altitude sickness a couple of times but all the time my legs were moving I was determined to move them in the right direction – up!

“The sleep deprivation was difficult and when we set off at midnight to attempt the summit I was literally falling asleep while walking.

“Coupled with the lack of oxygen, every few metres was draining my body and I would lean on my walking poles for a few seconds of shut-eye.

“There's always that little voice in the back of your head reminding you why you are doing it and within our party of 18 people we each had a very personal story to tell and that is why I made it.”

Brett and Scott decided to raise funds for the Air Ambulance after a neighbour’s life was saved by the pilot, doctor and paramedic.

The 18-year-old was involved in a road traffic collision and was flown by the charity helicopter to a specialist major trauma centre in London.

She is now back home and undergoing rehabilitation and her survival inspired Brett and Scott to climb 19,341ft Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this month.

Scott, 43, said: “It was a fantastic achievement but very hard work. At times I was struggling for breath and my lungs were hurting on the way up but we both made it to the top.”

The pair have so far raised £9,080 from a number of a string of fundraising events including the Ashington Village Ball and by running the London and Brighton marathons.

They are determined to reach their £10,000 target and can still be sponsored at or by texting tanz58 £5 or tanz58 £10 to 70070.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Air Ambulance Christmas catalogue now available

Photo 1: Wishing You a Heli Christmas

Photo 2: The Heli & The Ivy

Life-saving charity Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance has launched its new-look 2013 Christmas catalogue.

Supporters can now buy bespoke cards called Wishing you a Heli Christmas and The Heli & the Ivy showing the helicopter and crew in the snow.

Other designs feature stunning local scenery such as Canterbury Cathedral, Leith Hill Tower and Bodiam Castle, painted exclusively for the Air Ambulance by Reg Siger. There’s also a free prize draw to win one of these three original paintings.

Gifts include a 2014 Air Ambulance Calendar (£7), a 2014 Diary (£5), a Chromolite Key Chain (£3.50) and a Push & Go toy helicopter (£3), making it an ideal stocking filler.

The catalogue also has information on major developments of the service over the past year including night operation and the launch of blood transfusions, and how to become a volunteer.

There’s also the chance to win up to £1,000 by purchasing a Lottery Gift Voucher and this year for the first time ever there is an opportunity to purchase a membership for a young family friend or relative, to join Dr Dudley’s Kids Club.

To order a copy of the catalogue call 01622 833833 or go to

* Christmas shoppers can donate to the Air Ambulance by signing up to the Give as you Live scheme before buying their presents online. Top retailers such as Amazon,, John Lewis and Expedia will then donate a percentage to the charity helicopter. Go to

Monday, 14 October 2013

Daredevil David prepares for take-off

Photo: David Maidman

A paraglider is soon to embark on an epic non-stop 100km flight through the Himalayan mountains to raise funds for Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.

Father-of-two David Maidman, from Hawkenbury, will be jetting out to India on Friday (October 18th) ahead of his charity challenge.

The 49-year-old self-employed gardener will spend a few days preparing for the adventure before finally launching himself off the 8,848-metre-high peaks.

He will rely on thermals (bubbles of rising warm air) to keep him aloft but if they stop working he will be heading back down to earth.

David said: “The challenge is ambitious but achievable and should take about four to five hours to complete.

“It’s getting very exciting and it will be quite an accomplishment but I’ve been training for months and I’m now quietly confident.

“It's relatively safe if you don't get into the big mountains but if I get blown down, I may have to walk to get back to base and that’s where the adventure really begins.”

David, of Forest Way, has been inspired by Ed Stafford who was the first man to walk the length of the Amazon River which took him two-and-a-half years.

He qualified as a glider pilot four years ago after training at Mount Caburn near Lewes, East Sussex, and has previously flown in France, Spain and Morocco.

He added: “The Air Ambulance is very respected in my flying club because we often have to call upon their service when things go wrong.”

David has so far raised more than £1,300 for the Air Ambulance and the children's hospice Demelza House and can be sponsored at 

Bike polo day hits high notes for Air Ambulance

James Blunt presented the prizes at an annual bicycle polo event which has so far raised almost £5,000 for life-saving charity Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.

The singer, whose single Bonfire Heart is currently at Number 6 in the UK chart, watched as eight teams battled it out in the round-robin tournament at Sopers Farm in Ashurst.

He then handed out the medals to the winners before appearing on stage at BBC Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park the next day.

Photo L-R:: James Blunt pictured with winning Red Tigers team Harry Lloyd Owen, Keld Van Schreven, Zul Junas, Rupert Lewis, and Emily Harrison

The event was organised by James’ sister Emily Harrison after her husband Guy was airlifted to hospital following a quad bike accident just five days before she was due to give birth to their first child.

Photo L-R:  Guy Harrison, Air Ambulance Sussex County Board chairman David Bowden and Emily Harrison.

Guy, a businessman and Fathers4Justice activist best known for hurling purple powder at Tony Blair in the House of Commons, was flown to the Royal Sussex at Brighton with broken ribs but has since made a full recovery.

He said “The bike polo was a brilliant, low-key day which involved enthusiastic players on poor quality bikes charging up and down a grass pitch.

“While everyone drank Firebird Heritage Beer and ate Sussex Charmer Cheese-on-Toast, my main concern was that no-one got injured and ruined our fundraising efforts by requiring an air ambulance!

“The day also included fixed-wing aerobatics and model helicopter displays and ended with fire-juggling and a moon-lit disco. We had a great day and Emily and I are extremely grateful to everyone for their support and participation.”

Photo: Guy receiving treatment from SECAmb critical care paramedic Keith Foord at the scene of his accident in August, 2010.

Ambulance Sussex county board chairman David Bowden gave a talk to spectators about the charity at last month’s bike polo day and his son Mark was among the players and a losing finalist.

Photo L-R: Bike polo players Kevin Shaw and Stuart Allison in action

Each call-out of the helicopter costs about £2,500 so the fantastic sum of £4,946 raised from this and last year’s inaugural event will fund two potentially life-saving missions.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

All rotors lead to Goodwood for helicopter expo

Photo: L-R Air Ambulance Medical Director Dr Malcolm Russell, former Chief Pilot, Captain Steve Wood, Phoenix Helicopters Academy Flight Operations director Alastair Lovell, critical care paramedic Dave Wright and Dr Adam Fendius pictured at the former Air Ambulance base at Dunsfold

Helicopters from around the country will be flying into Goodwood Aerodrome this Sunday (October 6th) for an exposition in aid of Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.

Phoenix Helicopters Academy is hosting the fly-in with a special visit from the life-saving crew of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS).

Members of the public will get the chance to see the twin-engine MD902 Explorer aircraft and meet the pilot, doctor and paramedic between 10am and 1pm - subject to emergency call-outs.

There will also be pleasure flights courtesy of Phoenix Helicopters who have again chosen the Air Ambulance as their Charity of the Year after raising more than £2,500 two years ago.

Flight Operations Manager Toby Chamberlain said: “The Air Ambulance is a very fitting cause for us to support as a helicopter training school.

“Our students and clients immediately take an interest in the charity and it enables us to raise money from like-minded individuals who not only have an interest in helicopters but also understand the in-valuable service that the air ambulance provides.

“This expo is open to members of the public and we welcome local people to come and have a look at the aircraft on show and learn more about the Air Ambulance.

“The success of the event relies on an enthusiastic response and we hope many of you will decide to come along and make the event a success.”

The expo starts at 10am with a barbecue at midday and visitors can find out about the air ambulance from volunteers at the charity’s exhibition unit.

* Phoenix Helicopter Academy is a helicopter training school and Charter operator based at Goodwood and Blackbushe in Hampshire. For more information call 01243 790900 or go to


Farm worker reunited with life-savers

Photo: Air Ambulance Pilot Mark Howard-Smith, nurse Emily McWhirter, paramedic Charles Leahy, Dr John O’ Neill and David Johnstone.

A Warnham father who almost died in a farming accident has been reunited with the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance team who helped save his life.

David Johnstone, 53, was strapping a load of hay bales on a trailer when he slipped and fell 10ft onto the back of a tractor.

He impaled himself on a blunt metal spike and suffered a penetrating chest injury which narrowly missed his vital organs.

The air ambulance was called due to the severity of his injuries and the doctor and paramedic carried out emergency life-saving treatment at the scene.

David said: “My immediate reaction was that I was just going to pick myself up. I took a couple of steps and fell over so the people I was working with took me over to a bale and I slumped over it.

“I saw blood coming out of my chest and arms and every breath I took was smaller than the previous one because one of my lungs had collapsed. I was in absolute agony and thought I was going to die, it was terrifying.

“The pressure had built up in my chest cavity and was putting pressure on my heart so my blood pressure went very low.

“On the other hand it almost couldn’t have happened in a better place because if it had been two inches or more either way, I would have died.”

David had finished his day job as a masonry consultant and was helping a friend on the farm in West Chiltington when the accident happened in July.

South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) Community First Responder Peter Davis, critical care paramedic Lewis Allam and his colleagues Christian Clarke and Laura Benham were first on scene and found David fighting for breath.

They called in the air ambulance due to his life-threatening injuries and in the meantime gave him oxygen and pain relief.

Lewis said: “Upon re-assessment of the patient it was clear that his condition was worsening due to either blood or air being trapped around his lung and at this point the helicopter was overhead.”

Pilot Mark Howard-Smith landed in the field before his colleagues, Dr John O’Neill, nurse Emily McWhirter and paramedic Charles Leahy gave David further pain relief.

They also performed a chest drain to help him with his breathing – an advanced medical procedure usually performed only in hospital.

Dr O’Neill said: “When we arrived it was obvious David was very unwell with a major chest injury. He looked pale, clammy and his breathing was very laboured.

“There was a hole in his chest which was sucking in air every time he breathed, causing his lung to collapse and making his blood pressure dangerously low.

“It was clear he was deteriorating rapidly and needed urgent surgery to fix the problem which could not wait until he got to hospital.

“We sedated David and inserted a tube into his chest to relieve the build up of pressure. This had an immediate effect as David's blood pressure and oxygen levels returned to normal, and by the time we arrived at hospital he was looking much better, even managing to crack a joke.”

David was airlifted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital major trauma centre in Brighton where he spent the next six days.

The father-of-two has since made an almost full recovery and recently met the charity helicopter crew for the first time since his accident.

He added “When the air ambulance arrived I thought it must be quiet serious but I wasn’t aware of the level of expertise and equipment on board.

“Now I know that’s what made the difference and I wouldn’t be here today otherwise. I just wanted to say thank you in person because one of the most valuable things you can give is your time.

“It was very important for me to do that and it was absolutely marvellous to see them and say thanks.”

David is now back at work and planning to join his sons as a roadie when they tour the UK with their progressive rock band hAND in the New Year.