The campaign to secure a new air ambulance for the north-east has surged forward with a bus firm donating £375,000 towards the cost of a helicopter.
Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) aims to raise £6 million to add to the aircraft it already has in Perthshire and the Press and Journal is backing calls to base it in Aberdeen.
The charity yesterday announced that its ambitions were already beginning to take flight, having attracted some significant backing.
Stagecoach has pledged to donate £125,000 to the appeal for each of the next three years.
The firm’s chairman, Brian Souter, visited the charity’s base in Scone in a specially decorated bus which will now spread word of the fundraiser as it ventures the length and breadth of Scotland.
Mr Souter said: “Over the years the helicopter has helped to save many lives and Stagecoach is delighted to be the first corporate partner to announce dedicated funding towards the new helicopter.”
SCAA chief executive, David Craig, said he hoped the donation would inspire further acts of generosity.
He said: “We now need support more than ever as we work towards launching a second air ambulance, which can aid those seriously ill or injured wherever they are in Scotland.”
Since beginning operations five years ago, the group’s sole helicopter has responded to more than 1,700 time-critical emergencies from Orkney to the Borders.
Working alongside two Scottish Ambulance Service air ambulances and two fixed wing aircraft, SCAA is tasked as part of the country’s emergency services.
The charity is now in talks with its partners about where the second helicopter should be based.
Scottish Conservative MP for Aberdeen South, Ross Thomson, said that the creation of a new trauma centre in the city would make it the ideal location for the copter.
The centre, due to open this autumn, will provide care for patients who have suffered serious injuries in accidents such as car crashes or falls.
Charities such as Friends of Anchor and the Sandpiper Trust have also stated the case for bringing the air ambulance to Aberdeen.
Liberal Democrat MSP for Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross, Jamie Stone, suggested that the air ambulance could help redress “colossal challenges” in providing emergency response across the Highlands.