On Friday, 10th February Magpas Air Ambulance staff, clinicians and former patients welcomed HRH The Princess Royal to the site of the charity’s new base, to unveil a cornerstone for the new building which is mid-way through construction. The event, sponsored by Leonardo and supported by Special Aviation Services, had been postponed from September due to the funeral of Her late Majesty The Queen.
The new, purpose-built airbase and headquarters at Alconbury Weald—being delivered by Lindum Group—will boast a dedicated state-of-the-art training centre to train the next generation of pre-hospital emergency doctors and paramedics; be equipped for 24/7 operations with well-being and rest facilities for crew and clinicians; and provide new community and patient facilities on site.
The charity’s new home is situated closer to the region’s major trunk roads, which will reduce vehicle dispatch times by up to 15 minutes. This improved location that allows co-locating the charity’s operations and support staff—who currently work across two sites—will be more efficient; reducing charity overheads and improving environmental impact.
HRH The Princess Royal became Magpas Air Ambulance’s Royal Patron after she visited the charity’s current operations base in February 2020, and heard about the pressing need for the service to find a new home. In 2021, the charity’s 50th year of operations, she launched the Future 50 Appeal aimed at raising the funding needed to complete the building, with the unveiling of a cornerstone on Friday marking an important milestone in the development of the project.
Speaking of the occasion, Daryl Brown MBE DL, the charity’s Chief Executive Officer, said “It was an honour to welcome our patron HRH The Princess Royal to the site of our new base at Alconbury Weald. After unveiling the cornerstone, which will become a treasured part of our building, we were delighted to hear a few words from The Princess Royal and see her passion for the service we provide, before welcoming her to a reception afterwards. Here, she met former patients, Magpas Air Ambulance clinicians and funders of the project.
“It’s incredibly exciting to see, what has been a plan for a very long time, finally come into a fruition—especially as the building has now reached the major milestone of being watertight—and we can see the charity’s new home really coming together.”
The charity, which is funded by donations, has been careful not to divert income from running the day-to-day lifesaving service. As Lucy Chapman, Magpas Air Ambulance Director of Fundraising and Marketing explains, “We are extremely fortunate to receive fantastic support from the communities in which we work. As a charity, our service relies on donations from supporters and the public to raise the £6 million needed every year to operate and save lives 24/7, For this reason, we secured alternative and new sources of funding for the Future 50 Appeal. It’s fantastic to celebrate this important milestone in the project with HRH The Princess Royal, and we can’t wait to invite all our supporters to the new airbase once it is complete.”