Published: 01 May 2024

The hugely generous staff at Wales & West Housing Group (WWHG) have raised £42,000 in support of the Wales Air Ambulance and Blood Bikes Wales.

Fundraisers recently visited our base in Dafen where they handed over two £21,000 cheques to representatives from both lifesaving charities.

The money was raised in a variety of ways, including through their pay packets.

Diane Barnes, senior administrator at Wales & West Housing Group said: “Our staff are so kindhearted! Whenever I organise any sort of fundraising, whether it is a raffle or dress down Friday, they donate.

“At the end of every month, we collect pennies from pay, our payroll takes the odd pennies off the end of everyone's pay. If they have agreed to it beforehand.

“It might not sound like it would generate much, but by the end of the year it is about £600.

They will never pay more than £0.99. You may pay as little as penny a month. It's amazing when you've got a lot of staff.”

Wales Air Ambulance is consultant-led, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient and if required, transferring them directly to the most appropriate hospital for their illness or injury.

It is delivered via a unique Third sector and Public Sector partnership. The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the charity’s vehicles.

This is the second time Wales & West Housing Group has supported the air ambulance. Diane said: “We fundraised for the charity back when the critical care team first got onboard.

“We always choose charities that help or support people across the country and we have a nomination process. This time the Wales Air Ambulance was the most popular choice.”

She added: “One of our members of staff also had a recent experience of the service because she manages one of our housing schemes for older people.

 “One of the residents there, was taken ill and the air ambulance flew to them and got them to hospital quickly and saved their life.

“So, it was a personal thing for them to nominate the charity and to be honest lots of people have some sort of experience with the service.”

Wales Air Ambulance needs to raise £11.2 million every year to keep its helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road.

The money raised by Wales and West Housing Group will help our team attend eight missions and may also be used to support patients after their illness or injury, through the charity’s Patient and Aftercare Service.

The patient liaison nurses can offer ongoing support to patients and their families.

Diane said: “We learnt so much about the work done by the air ambulance team during our visit to the Dafen base. We usually get charities to come into us – but it was amazing to actually meet the team, see the helicopter up close and all the equipment, they carry a lot of stuff.

“Our staff came too, as they did all the fundraising, and they haven’t stopped buzzing about it. Literally we’ve all been talking about it for weeks – it has had such a big impact on us all.

“We got to go out on the helipad and the pilot and paramedics were incredible, they spent so much time with us explaining what they do. It was mind blowing.”

She continued: “The thing that surprised me most was what the onboard crew can do medically when they arrive at the incident they are attending. I knew they were well qualified, but I didn’t realise the level of treatment they can administer whether roadside or on a mountain.”

Phae Jones, Wales Air Ambulance’s Director of Income Generation, said: “We are truly humbled by the support we have received from the Wales & West Housing Group.

“The money raised will make a lifesaving difference to those suffering a life and limb-threatening illness or injury. If it were not for the generosity of the people of Wales, our 24/7 service simply wouldn’t exist, and donations like this enable us to serve the people of Wales and save lives.

“Thank you to everyone involved in raising such a staggering amount for us and Blood Bikes Wales.”

Blood Bikes Wales is a 100% volunteer charity which provides a free motorcycle courier to the NHS throughout Wales delivering blood samples, plasma, donated human milk, medical documents, and other items all over Wales. It is completely funded by donations from the public.

Lesley Isaacs-Penny, Vice Chair of Blood Bikes Wales, said: “We are extremely grateful to everyone at the Wales & West Housing Group for their generosity. I believe this is the most money our charity has ever received from public fundraising in one gift.

 “Fundraising is harder than ever as we are becoming a more cashless society, so this money will make a huge difference to our work. It will keep our wheels turning.”