The Wales Air Ambulance Charity can today announce that its café, Caffi HEMS, will move from its existing site at Caernarfon Airport to its exciting new shop and community hub investment in the centre of Caernarfon.

The Charity’s Caffi HEMS employees and brand will be moving to its new premises in time for its opening towards the end of the year. The last day of trading at the airport will be Sunday 30 October.

Reflecting the Charity’s long working relationship with the owners of Caernarfon Airport, it will be working closely with them to make sure that alternative arrangements are put in place to ensure minimal disruption to the services offered to commercial customers of the airport.

David Gilbert, the Charity’s Chair of Trustees, said: “We are sad to announce our intention to move Caffi HEMS from Caernarfon Airport. From a staffing and trading perspective, the cafe has been commercially challenging for some time and, in line with swathes of the catering and hospitality sector, we have had to take difficult decisions to protect the interests of the Charity. It’s important to say that there will be no redundancies as a result of this move. We would like to thank the airport owners for their support towards our operation of the café facility. 

“However, I am pleased to say that with the introduction of our exciting new retail and community hub investment in the centre of Caernarfon, we will be including a coffee bar alongside our retail offering. The new facility, which is larger than our existing shop on High Street, will present greater opportunities for the Charity while giving our volunteers and supporters a dedicated, accessible, space to meet.

“I would like to stress that the decision to relocate Caffi HEMS is completely separate from any discussion about our operational future at the airbase as a result of the current service analysis.”

Through its new investment in the town, the lifesaving charity has taken on the lease of the former Argos site on Pool Side. The two-story building will offer a large retail area for customers while the additional first-floor space will allow the Charity to create meeting rooms and communal areas for employees and the wider community. The Charity will also introduce a coffee bar facility.

The new Caernarfon site will be the hub for the Charity’s north-west Wales retail operation. Its accessibility will see it become a public donation centre, with storage facilities and vehicle access that will allow it to service other Wales Air Ambulance shops in the region.   

The increased space will allow the Charity to receive and sell bigger donated items, such as furniture. It has also created new employment opportunities with a new assistant manager role and additional transport operative positions.

David Gilbert added: “The new facility will play a key role in raising much-needed funds to maintain our lifesaving service. Last year in Gwynedd, we attended 225 life or limb-threatening emergencies.”

Caernarfon has been chosen as the first location in Wales for development as part of the Charity’s new retail blueprint.

Dr Sue Barnes, Wales Air Ambulance Chief Executive, said: “Through our surveys, our supporters and volunteers told us that the strength of our charity is in its community focus. As an organisation that was created by the people of Wales for the people of Wales, we have embedded ourselves within communities across the country. Our shops are not just retail outlets, they are part of the community they serve. This is something that people would like us to continue and strengthen, and it has become one of the focal points of our new strategy.”

The new Wales Air Ambulance retail blueprint aims to strike a balance between generating income for its lifesaving service and enhancing the Charity’s community presence across the country.

Dr Barnes continued: “Our Charity has a longstanding relationship with Caernarfon and there is an incredible network of passionate volunteers and supporters in the region. That is why the town has become the first area to lead the way in delivering our retail blueprint. This site will become a beacon for Wales Air Ambulance in north-west Wales and we hope that it will become a multi-functional, community-focused space.

“Everything we do is focused on ensuring that we remain driven by the people of Wales and their needs. We have a duty to make the best use of the donations gifted to us while employing those funds to deliver the most effective emergency service for our nation.”

The new facility on Pool Side will open later this year. Until then, the Charity will continue to operate from its current shop location on High Street. 

The Wales Air Ambulance Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its emergency helicopters in the air and its rapid response vehicles on the road.

The 24/7 emergency service offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’. The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia, and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.