Monday, 29 February 2016

Son's bike challenge for father's lifeasavers

Photo: David Roberts and his father

A cyclist from Folkestone is to embark on a 360-mile bike ride from Arizona to Las Vegas to raise funds for the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance that saved his father’s life.

David Roberts’s father, David senior, was on a treadmill at his local gym when he suffered a heart attack and had to be given emergency treatment at the scene by the charity helicopter’s doctor and paramedic.

The 66-year-old was taken to the specialist coronary unit at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and later underwent a quadruple heart bypass. He has since made a full recovery following his heart scare four years ago.

Now his son and friend and work colleague Mark Randall are gearing up for the Unite & Bike Challenge to raise funds for the charity which relies almost entirely on donations.

David, 45, said: “The air ambulance saved his life and he wouldn’t be here without them so I felt I needed to do my bit.

“A friend of Mark’s was also airlifted so both of us have a personal connection with the air ambulance. It is a big challenge that we are taking on and one that we will need to do a lot of training for.”

The week-long Unite & Bike challenge starts at the Grand Canyon and takes in desert, forests, historic towns and parts of the famous Route 66 highway before finishing in Las Vegas.

Last year, ex-Royal Engineer David successfully completed the 420km Death Valley cycle challenge in south California.

The crane operator, of Valebrook Close, is aiming to raise £2,000 when he returns to the States in October, 2017, and can be sponsored at

The cost of the trip has been funded by David and Mark so every penny raised from the event will go to the air ambulance.


Ex-squaddie squares up for Kent2 challenge

Photo: Steve Morley

A former Army Warrant Officer has embarked on a year-long challenge to cycle, run or walk every square kilometre of Kent in a bid to raise £5,000 for the county’s air ambulance.

Ex-Royal Engineer Steve Morley, the charity’s Property Asset Manager, has so far completed 565 out of the county’s 3,736 square kilometres.

His tour of the Garden of England began with a 33km bike ride along the Thanet Viking Trail on New Year’s Day and has also included a hike round Clowes Wood near Herne Bay and a five-mile run between Monkton and the River Stour.

The 46-year-old father of four, from Margate, has been tackling his epic challenge in between his job at the Marden-based charity.

He said: “I like to keep fit and I love navigating with maps so I wanted to combine the two and come up with a challenge that was different and unique, and I wanted it to be meaningful.

“It’s been quite tough, cold and dark so far and a little bit slower than I anticipated. I’ve definitely taken on a challenge.”

Steve, who served in the Army for 24 years, fell off his bike while cycling through woods near Canterbury but escaped unhurt.

He added: “In term of distance I’ve completed about 644kms so far, mostly cycling but also walking with family and friends. It’s taken me 52 hours so far and it will take me about 340 hours to complete.

“What concerns me is that there are some pretty difficult areas to tackle which will be a lot slower, like the marshes south of the Isle of Sheppey, but I’m absolutely confident I will complete this challenge.”

Steve can be sponsored at where supporters have so far raised £440 and left messages, and where he is keeping a blog of his journey.

Air ambulance volunteer Carole Ennis wrote: “Stunned by the challenge you have set yourself – can’t quite get my head round it! Hoping for better weather for you soon.”

Steve thanked Ordnance Survey for supplying his maps and Downland Cycles Training Centre near Canterbury for their support.


Monday, 15 February 2016

Workman wins £12,000 in air ambulance lottery

Photo: Superdraw winner John Bain

A workman from Dover has won almost £12,000 just six months after signing up to Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance’s lottery.

Crane supervisor John Bain, 48, joined the life-saving charity’s Superdraw when a canvasser called at his Heathfield Avenue home last year.

He thought nothing more of his £8-a-month subscription until he received a call telling him he had won the top prize in last week’s draw, with random lucky numbers 3, 16, 20 and 32.

The father-of-five is now planning to spend his winnings on a Triumph Bonneville motorbike and a brand new electric guitar.

He said: “I don’t usually sign up to charity Direct Debits but I really do think the air ambulance is a worthy cause.

“The lady who came round explained very well that it was a charity-funded operation and I just thought I wouldn’t miss the money regardless of my financial situation. It’s small change to support a good cause.

“It was a complete surprise when I heard I’d won, and such a substantial sum as well.”

Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance’s Regular Lottery costs just £1 per week and there are 12 winners drawn each week with prizes ranging from £25 to £1,000.

For an extra £1 a week, players can join the Superdraw which has a maximum jackpot of £25,000. To join the lottery go to or call 01622 833833.


Mother runs for son's life-savers

Photo: Peter, Kaylie and Louis Parvin

A Grove Green mother is to run her first ever half marathon to raise funds for Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance after her son was airlifted.

Little Louis Parvin was just two years old when he suffered a fractured skull and a bleed on his brain after a wardrobe fell on him.

The St John’s Primary School pupil, now aged 4, has since made a full recovery following his accident three years ago.

Now his mother Kaylie, 27, is to run the Paddock Wood half marathon to raise funds for the life-saving charity which relies almost entirely on donations.

She said: “Luckily for us, the air ambulance were able to assist him at the scene of the accident, putting him in an induced coma and airlifting him straight to King’s College Hospital to get him the necessary treatment as fast as possible, which is crucial with brain injuries.

“Due to the speed and quick response of the air ambulance Louis made a full recovery but this may have been very different if it hadn't been for them.

“So many people helped and looked after us but I honestly believe the actions of the air ambulance saved his life. It’s frightening to think the service just relies on donations.”

Kaylie, a hairdresser, will be joined in the run on April 3rd by her sister Melanie Vine and friend Kathryn Wright. She has so far raised £180 and can be sponsored at /

An air ambulance volunteer will give a presentation about the charity’s life-saving work at Louis’ school next month and there will also be a visit from their mascot, Dr Dudley.

Last year, Louis was a special guest at the charity’s 25th anniversary service at Canterbury Cathedral where his father Peter gave a reading.


Friday, 12 February 2016

Air ambulance welcomes new generation helicopter

Photo: The new AW169

Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust (KSSAAT) took delivery of a new AgustaWestland 169 (AW169) helicopter today (Wednesday).

The new generation helicopter will replace one of the two older KSSAAT helicopters currently in service and greatly increases the operational capacity of the life-saving service.  Every year the specialist doctors and paramedics treat nearly 2,000 people. The majority are suffering from the most severe and life-threatening injuries, but includes those suffering from acute medical emergencies.

Adrian Bell, Chief Executive of the KSSAAT, said: “The enhanced capabilities of the helicopter will allow us to further improve the life-saving service we deliver to the community, and offers us the exciting potential to reconfigure how these services are delivered for maximum effect in the future.”

The new helicopter boasts a larger cabin  giving the medical teams 360 degree access to the patient, allowing life-saving, time-critical interventions inside the aircraft, which isn’t currently possible. 

The additional cabin space will also allow the Charity to deploy larger teams for major emergencies and undertake the level of training and supervision all individuals and teams need both by day and night. Not only is the aircraft also slightly faster than the current MD902, it also has far greater endurance and can therefore fly much further without the need for refuelling.

Adrian added: “Our current helicopters are just about adequate for the task by day but not best suited to support night operations.  Logistic support for refuel and resupply is severely limited and NHS supporting infrastructure (24/7 helipads at key hospitals) in the region lacking.  But the increased range of the AW169 means we can fly to an emergency incident anywhere in the south east and then air transport the casualty on to hospital out of region but with a helipad should the patient’s need so demand.”

A planning application to locate both KSSAAT aircraft to a new flying base at Old Hay Airfield has been submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  Old Hay Airfield occupies an optimum location at the heart of the region that would allow the KSSAAT pilots to reach emergency incidents anywhere in the south east within 25 minutes.  

Group Managing Director of Specialist Aviation Services, the Charity’s aviation partner, Henk Schaeken, said: “We are very proud to be introducing the all new AW169 helicopter into service in the UK with one of the country’s leading air ambulance operators.

“We have been very busy training our engineers and pilots in preparation for the introduction to service of the AW169, so we can deliver from the outset the same high level of aircraft availability and support which our customers have come to expect from us.”

Specialist Aviation Services has been appointed as an Authorised Service Centre for the new generation AW169 light intermediate helicopter in the UK and will provide a range of support and maintenance services to AW169 operators.


Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Hospital worker wins £25,000 in air ambulance lottery

Photo: Air ambulance Pilot, Captain Kevin Goddard

An Eastbourne District General Hospital worker will be jetting off on the holiday of a lifetime to New York after winning the £25,000 jackpot in Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance’s lottery.

Neurophysiotherapist Debbie Soave, from Willingdon, joined the life-saving charity’s Superdraw when a canvasser called at her home last year.

She thought nothing more of her £8-a-month subscription until she received a call telling her she had won the top prize in the draw, with random lucky numbers 1, 5, 29 and 34.

The mother-of-three is now planning a trip to the Big Apple to celebrate her daughter’s 21st birthday in March.

She said: “I’ve never won anything before and it couldn’t have come at a better time. We’ve been saying how nice it would be to take my daughter to New York for a few days, and now we can.

“I’ve only been a member of the air ambulance lottery since June and I just saw it as a donation. It’s a lovely sum of money to win and it will allow us to do many things with it. We might even go on a skiing trip as well.”

Debbie has kindly donated some of her winnings back to the air ambulance which relies almost entirely on donations.

She added: “I believe very strongly in local charities because a lot of people don’t realise how important they are for the services they provide.

“The EDGH Rehabilitation Gym I work in was built and equipped by our fantastic League of Friends so I am reminded on a daily basis about the vital role that they and other charities, such as St Wilfrid’s Hospice and the air ambulance, play in supporting the NHS.”

Debbie is the air ambulance’s first £25,000 winner this year and the second Superdraw winner from Eastbourne in less than a year after another lottery member scooped £11,025 last September.

The charity’s Regular Lottery costs just £1 per week and there are 12 winners drawn each week with prizes ranging from £25 to £1,000.

For an extra £1 a week, players can join the Superdraw which has a maximum jackpot of £25,000. To join the lottery go to or call 01622 833833.


Monday, 1 February 2016

Christmas tree farmer helps grow funds for air ambulance

Photo, L-R: Air ambulance paramedic Caroline Rose, Dr Leonieke Vlaanderen, Pilot Matt Tacon and Clive Collins

A big-hearted Sussex Christmas tree farmer has donated £300 to Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance.

Clive Collins, who runs Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm, decided that 2015 was the perfect year to “give something back” as it marked 25 years since he was airlifted to hospital by the charity helicopter.

Clive, 54, was working as a forestry contractor when he fell 30ft from a tree and broke his back. He was left paralysed from the waist down but, with the aid of a specially adapted tractor and a huge amount of determination, he launched his Christmas tree business a few years after the accident.

Now Clive has built a big following with customers travelling from around the region to buy his trees. He also supplies to prestigious hotels and businesses.

Clive explains: “The accident was horrific and I spent a long time in Stoke Mandeville Hospital. But while I was there I started thinking I could make something out of my situation and there was no reason why I couldn’t have dreams and goals like everyone else.

“I’d always wanted to grow Christmas trees before I was paralysed because I love working outside in the fresh air. I worked out how to set the farm up so that it was accessible for me.

“As a successful business I feel strongly that we should try and help others and ‘give something back’ which is why,  as well as the air ambulance, this season we donated a record amount of funds to a number of charities including the Spinal Injuries Association, Dragonflies, Southern Disabled Ski and local PTAs.”

Clive donated 10p from the sale of every Christmas tree to raise funds for the air ambulance which relies almost entirely on public support.

He decided to support the air ambulance this year after learning that one of his customers was Pilot Captain Kevin Goddard.

Kevin said: “Clive’s farm is on my way to work and we’ve always bought our trees there since we moved to Bexhill. One of the things that attracted us is that you can walk round and select your tree.

“Clive then puts a ribbon around it and cuts it down on the day you pick it up. We usually get two, one for indoors and one for outside.”

Clive employs a team of 15 helpers at his 33-acre farm which produces about trees for clients including TV presenter Ray Mears. 

Kent Air Ambulance was launched in December 1989, and has helped thousands of people and saved many lives after attending more than 25,000 call-outs over the last quarter of a century.

Clive was one of the charity’s first patients when he was airlifted to the Conquest Hospital following his accident in June, 1990, and later transferred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm is a long-established grower and retailer based in Catsfield, East Sussex. It has growing and supplying Christmas trees for more than 25 years.