Swansea Building Society has announced that Wales Air Ambulance will continue to be its official charity for another year – following a vote by its staff – in a bid to help fight the overall fall in UK charitable donations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wales Air Ambulance Charitable Trust was the Building Society’s official charity during 2020. However, due to COVID-19, their staff felt that they had been unable to raise funds from many of the activities they would have liked to have undertaken, so are hoping for the chance to do that in 2021, COVID restrictions allowing.
Despite the challenges of 2020, the Society raised a considerable amount for the valuable medical rescue service, helping it achieve its long-held ambition of becoming a 24/7 service across Wales, and allowing them to keep helicopters in the air during an unprecedented year.
The Wales Air Ambulance Charitable Trust welcomed a £5,000 donation made by the Society in June, as well as an additional £5,000 donation made in December – funds it said have been much-needed due to the way in which the coronavirus pandemic has limited many forms of fundraising.
The Society has also totalled up all monies from collection tins at their branches, which they have again more than match funded. This, along with a further individual donation from one of the Society’s customers of £250, brings the total raised for the charity by Swansea Building Society during 2020 to £10,718.
Wales Air Ambulance is funded entirely by the people of Wales. The charity does not receive direct funding from the government, and it does not qualify for National Lottery funding. Instead, it relies on the support of the Welsh public to help keep the helicopters flying. Its helicopters are kept in the air solely through charitable donations, fundraising events and membership of its in‐house Lifesaving Lottery.
The Charity has four airbase operations in Caernarfon, Llanelli, Welshpool and Cardiff. As well as flying patients to hospital, they bring A&E directly to patients.
The on‐board critical care consultants and practitioners have some of the most pioneering equipment and skills in the world. They deliver emergency treatments usually not available outside of a hospital environment, including the ability to conduct blood transfusions, administer anaesthetics, offer strong painkillers, and conduct a range of medical procedures. This means that patients receive advanced care before they even reach the hospital.
In December 2020, the Charity achieved its ultimate aim of becoming a 24/7 service. Alongside the four-aircraft operation which runs in the daytime, the Charity now has a helicopter and crew on standby throughout the night which is capable of supporting emergencies across Wales.
The money raised by Swansea Building Society for Wales Air Ambulance adds to significant funds already raised for a variety of worthy causes during 2020: £1,000 raised for the Movember campaign; £2,820 raised for Maggies Cancer Charity; £1,071 raised for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal; £1,000 raised for the NHS; £500 for Carmarthen Food Bank; and £310 for the leading homeless charity Llamau West Wales.
Richard Miles, Swansea Building Society’s Head of Savings, said:
“We had lots of group fundraising activities planned for 2020, but COVID-19, unfortunately, meant they were unable to go ahead. Despite these difficulties, our staff have managed to raise a considerable amount this year. The Society has also stepped in with considerable donations to ensure none of the charities missed out – by more than match-funding all monies raised for the worthy causes we’ve supported.
“During 2021, our staff hope to be able to undertake some of the cake sales, dress down days, quiz’s, fundraising runs and cycle rides we had planned to raise money for charity this year. Hopefully, this should mean our 2021 total will surpass the already considerable amount we have managed to raise during 2020, despite the difficulties.”
Mark Stevens, Wales Air Ambulance Fundraising Manager, said:
“Everybody at Swansea Building Society has shown incredible generosity towards our charity. We are humbled by their continued support and are proud to be associated with them.
“2020 has been a significant year in our history, and not just because of the pandemic. It is the year that we have achieved our aim of delivering a lifesaving service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To maintain the helicopter operation, we need to raise £8 million every year.
“During 2021, our charity will celebrate its 20th anniversary and we are delighted that Swansea Building Society will be a part of this significant milestone.”