This evening, The Duke of Cambridge attended the London Air Ambulance Charity Gala at Rosewood London, to celebrate their 30 years in the air, saving lives. William has been working with the London Air Ambulance service, as a patron of its fundraising programme, since January.
The charity’s #30YearsSavingLives campaign was launched to highlight their vital work in delivering life-saving treatment across London, and raise support for the development of new facilities. So far, the campaign has raised almost £2 million.
Prince William, who previously worked as a pilot for East Anglian Air Ambulance, laughed and joked with crew members currently serving in the London Air Ambulance and patients who have been treated by the charity. While he was wearing his dinner jacket and bow tie, some of the team were in their neon orange work kit.
The Duke of Cambridge told musician Eric Clapton, who was also attending tonight’s gala, that, “I have been prioritising family time. It’s my children. It’s quite hard spending time with them. Any free time I get, I see them.”
Prince William also spoke with Captain Andy Thompson and Yair Shahar, a patient who was seriously injured in a collision with a car while riding his bike in Enfield, North London, in April 2016. Mr Shahar suffered a crushed pelvis and had major internal bleeding, and was treated at the side of the road by ambulance crew.
His wife, Yael, said, “The charity has been amazing. Not only did they save his life but they have kept in touch and been there for important milestones.”
Other famous faces at the gala were Formula One billionaire Bernie Ecclestone and his family, and television presenter Natalie Pinkham, who hosted the event. Lord and Lady Archer also hosted a charity auction.
During his speech, The Duke of Cambridge said, “Having served as an air ambulance pilot myself, I am in no doubt about the crucial life-line that air ambulances provide all over the UK. London has some of the most difficult airspace in the world in which to offer an air ambulance service. The city is congested, and landing spaces in short supply.
“I landed on the London Air Ambulance helipad on multiple occasions during my job. I can tell you that it is an essential part of the medical chain in London, and speeds up the process of patients getting to care. I know first-hand that the trauma teams working London’s Air Ambulance are world class – even if their banter isn’t quite up to the pilots’ level!”
Celebrating the funds raised so far for the charity, William said: “When I became patron for the anniversary in January, one of the targets was to raise at least £1 million to redevelop the crew’s helipad base. I am very proud that, nine months later, this target has now been met. Once complete, these new facilities at the helipad will allow medics to respond even faster to emergencies and ensure crews have the mental health and wellbeing support that they need.”
Jonathan Jenkins, chief executive of London Air Ambulance, praised William as ‘one of our own’ and thanked other wealthy donors at the gala; he said, “Your efforts tonight will help us save lives today, tonight and going forward. It’s as simple as that.”
First created in 1989, the air ambulance has treated more than 40,000 patients and attended most major incidents in the capital, including London 7/7, the London Bridge attacks and the Croydon tram crash. It costs around £10 million each year to deliver the service.