UK HEMS charity and operator Wiltshire Air Ambulance (WAA) had its new base officially opened on 14 December by The Duchess of Cornwall.
The base, located at Semington, near Melksham, has been in operation since May 2018 and bought the charity’s helicopter, operational, fundraising and administrative teams onto one site and on land the charity owns for the first time.
The Duchess unveiled a commemorative plaque in the charity’s new hanger to commemorate the opening and was also presented flowers by four-year-old Mia Burry, who was treated by the service when she was only four weeks old.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who has been involved in this wonderful project. I know the fantastic work the air ambulance does. I have known friends that have literally been saved by it,” said The Duchess. “I feel very happy when I see them buzzing over the top of my house, which I think is their route, and I give it a cheery wave every time I see it. I think Wiltshire is particularly lucky to have a very, very special air ambulance.”
The Duchess was given a full tour of the base, as well as being shown WAA’s Bell 429 helicopter. She was also given a demonstration of the state-of-the-art immersive simulation suite, with a scenario including a parachutist injured on the ground by the Westbury White Horse.
In the charity office The Duchess, on behalf of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, presented a trophy to long-standing volunteer Colin Smith.
David Philpott, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “It was an honour to welcome The Duchess of Cornwall to our new airbase. Her Royal Highness has always taken a keen interest in our charity and we were delighted that she was able to visit and meet the staff, crew and trustees, as well as people whose lives we saved and supporters.”