Bonus row threatens the launch of air ambulance

An East Anglian air ambulance charity's plans to run a second helicopter service, in Bedfordshire, are in jeopardy after the organisation was criticised for awarding bonuses to managers.

Donors threatened to withdraw their support when the Norwich Evening News reported that bosses received one-off payments totalling £17,500 in 2005.

Steve Whitby, finance director at East Anglian Air Ambulance, said the Charity Commission and auditors both approved the payments to him, executive director Simon Gray and lottery manager Colin Mowles. The payments depended on meeting fundraising targets.

"When we were appointed in 2004, the charity's turnover was £1.6m," said Whitby. "Last year it was £3.6m. We were assured by the commission that these payments were reasonable and a significant percentage of charities' pay performance bonuses."

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