Magpas Air Ambulance Chief Pilot Captain Richard Eastwood, Simon Gartside Partner and Branch Manager at Waitrose and Partners in St Ives, Christina Mann Waitrose Team Manager Partner, Linda Dumbrell Waitrose Partner, Magpas Critical Care Paramedic Dan Read, Magpas Dr VJ Sankar and Magpas Technical Crew Member Rob Davies at the charity’s operations base for the official cheque presentation

With his youngest son working as a wholetime Firefighter for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue, Simon Gartside Manager at Waitrose and Partners St Ives, knows only too well the critical lifesaving difference that Magpas Air Ambulance can make at the scene of life-threatening emergencies in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and the East of England. Hence, some years ago Simon and his team started to show their support by donating raffle prizes and subsequently Magpas was chosen for the store’s Community Matters (green token) scheme.

Simon explains, “My son has told me how it feels when he and his “watch” are called to a serious road traffic incident and are busy cutting people out of their cars; to suddenly see the Magpas Air Ambulance team appear in the sky. He says they’re like angels descending; ready to perform some medical miracles at the side of the road.”

So inspired by the work of the charity were Simon and his team, they decided to take their fundraising efforts to the next level. Simon highlights, “These specially trained doctors and paramedics look after the staff and the communities that we work in.” Hence, last year Simon nominated Magpas Air Ambulance for a grant from the Home Counties and East Zone of Waitrose (which covers almost 50 stores in the East of England).

Thanks to Simon and his colleagues, their local lifesaving charity was awarded a grant of £6000 to be spent on pain relieving drugs. At the end of last year, Simon was joined by Christina Mann and Linda Dumbrell from Waitrose and Partners Colchester, when they came up to the Magpas Air Ambulance Operations Base in Huntingdon to present a cheque for the vital funds donated. At the end of their visit, having met the enhanced medical team on shift, Christina said, “It was fascinating to gain such a detailed insight into the service this charity provides and to see how committed and hardworking everyone is who works here.”

Simon added, “Magpas is a wonderful organisation. The crucial input these doctors and paramedics have in saving people’s lives – and the stories they tell me – never cease to surprise or impress.” He adds, “In a nutshell, anyone of us could need this service at any time in our lives.”