Air ambulance TV adverts 'a first'

Great North Air Ambulance Service has turned to television advertising in a bid to raise money to fly its helicopters again.

The campaign, across the Tyne Tees and Border television regions, is the charity's first TV advert and is thought to be the first time any of the UK's air ambulance services has advertised on the small screen.

Two of the three air ambulances in the region have been grounded since March after donations plummeted in the aftermath of fundraising appeals for the Asian tsunami and the Carlisle floods in January.

The 30-second television advert, running for two months alongside press and radio campaigns, starts with a heartbeat going flat on a monitor.

It then shows the air ambulance crew heading off to the rescue before the heartbeat starts again, and calls for donations of 50p a week.

Tyne Tees and Border Television subsidised the cost of producing the advert after the charity decided that an integrated media campaign would be the best way to generate the sustainable income the service needs.

Paul Atkinson, director of finance at the charity, said that the promise of a £25,000 one-off donation from Cumbria County Council and £10,000 from Carlisle City Council would help get the ambulance service working to full capacity again.

The service normally receives no statutory funding, and Atkinson said he thought the Carlisle money was given as a "thank you" for the work the air ambulance service did during the city's floods.

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