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A message from our chief executive

David Philpott discusses how the Coronavirus pandemic has affected fundraising efforts for our charity.

One and all,

As we move into what looks like the second spike, or surge, of the Coronavirus pandemic here in the UK, with huge swathes of the country now in local lockdowns, I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has supported us so generously in recent months. The generosity of the good people of Wiltshire seems to know no bounds and we have been completely overwhelmed by the financial donations we have received.

It's vitally important because throughout the pandemic our aircrew has remained operational, ensuring we can be there on the front line for the people of Wiltshire and surrounding areas when they need us most. 

You may recall that through our national body, Air Ambulances UK, we were petitioning the Government for emergency funding to get us through this extraordinarily difficult period. I am pleased to say that we did recently receive a one-off grant of £375,000 or thereabouts and although we are extremely grateful for this and wish in no way to diminish it, this amount nevertheless only covers around one month of our operating costs.

Having been in ‘fundraising lockdown’ for the past six months or so and with little prospect of proactive on-the-ground fundraising being allowed to start again any time soon, you will easily appreciate that this grant is but a drop in the ocean, albeit enough to make a splash, so to speak. The grant was also specifically for the additional costs incurred by us on account of COVID-19.

Over the past few months, we have of course been extremely busy and there is plenty for us to feel positive and hopeful about. Our Charity Shop in Devizes reopened its doors last month - albeit on reduced hours - and we have now set up our own Online Shop for the sale of merchandise, including the extremely popular WAA branded facemasks.

A new Regular Giving scheme has been launched and our various recycling schemes are all flourishing. By way of example, 10,105kg of clothing was collected from our 28 textile banks in August, generating £3,559.80 in total funds raised. Five new textile banks have been approved and are awaiting delivery. We've also recently received in the region of £15,000 from the Recycle 4 Wiltshire Air Ambulance team, who continue to do a tremendous job across the county. 

I mentioned above what I call ‘fundraising lockdown’. This is because 2020 was supposed to be a year of celebration as we marked our 30th birthday. Instead we pushed everything that was supposed to happen this year into 2021, but alas, owing to recent government limitations such as the 'Rule of Six' and restrictions on indoor gatherings, those rescheduled 2021 fundraising events will likely be towards the end of the year now, if at all. Currently we are restricted to virtual challenges, such the Santa v Rudolph Run in December.

We have been regularly keeping in touch with all our wonderful volunteers throughout the pandemic, many of whom have been frustrated at not being able to do anything for the charity at present, but we are very much looking forward to welcoming them all back once we feel it is safe to do so. Recently some of our volunteers have been able to hold virtual talks with local groups over Zoom, which helps continue to spread our lifesaving message. 

What lies ahead? How will COVID-19 affect fundraising going forwards? This answer is quite frankly, that we have no idea at this time. We will, of course, continue to focus on fundraising streams like legacies, our Lottery and Superdraw, Raffles and community fundraising, but this is all uncharted waters for all of us.

The fact that so many of you continue to support us is a source of great encouragement at what otherwise would be desperate times. Thank you again.

David Philpott
Chief Executive

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