Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Highways 101 Club helps save 28 lives

Photo 1: Brian Pettitt pictured (in white shirt, front row) at the Air Ambulance base at Marden

Photo 2, L-R: Brian pictured with former colleague Ian Harrison during the first ever Highways 101 Club draw

A former Kent County Council highways inspector who set up a lottery to raise funds for the air ambulance has reached a £70,000 milestone for the life-saving charity.

Brian Pettitt launched the Highways 101 Club in 1991 after the helicopter emergency medical service was called to a major accident on the M20.

He was involved in clearing wreckage from the crash site and persuaded colleagues to sign up to the weekly draw to support the charity.

With the help of his wife Lesley who does the accounts, the club now has 108 members paying £1 a week for the chance to win cash prizes of £35, £15 and £3.50. 

Each call-out of the helicopter costs about £2,500, so the £70,000 raised from the Highways 101 Club so far is enough to fund 28 potentially life-saving missions.

Brian said: “I initially came up with the idea when I was working for Kent County Council. We were called to assist with an accident on the M20 where a low loader with three diggers on it hit Forstal Road Bridge.

“One of the diggers fell off and blocked the London-bound carriageway and as a result it caused a multiple pile-up involving a coach.

“The air ambulance was called and it must have come back about three times to take patients to hospital. That’s when I thought we needed to support the service.

“I went back to my colleagues and said if I came up with something to raise money, would they be game for it, and they said yes, go for it.”

In 2010, Brian was presented with the Group/Club Fundraiser award at the air ambulance’s 20th anniversary awards dinner at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone.

The 73-year-old, from Aylesford. recently visited the helicopter base with family, friends and former work colleagues to hand over their latest £5,000 instalment from the Highways 101 Club.

He added: “It’s brilliant to have raised £70,000 and the same amount has been paid out in prize money so this is a big thank you to all those who support it and the two people who assist me in collect the money, David Ardley and Ian Chambers.

“One of our members used to be my manager and he moved up north and we lost contact so I took him out of the draw temporarily. He then phoned me up and surprised me, saying he still wanted to support it and that’s how dedicated some of them have been.

“I’m planning to carry on as long as I can and I hope to still be around to get to £101,000.”

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