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Night landing at Sidmouth Rugby Club pitches for Devon Air Ambulance

06:30 23 August 2016

Devon Air Ambulance helicopter at Sidmouth Rugby Club. Ref exe 6567-21-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Devon Air Ambulance helicopter at Sidmouth Rugby Club. Ref exe 6567-21-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton

Archant

Airborne paramedics could soon be saving lives into the hours of darkness in the Sid Valley after two landing sites were found.

Sidmouth RFC bosses initially offered their pitch at Blackmore but then said they also had floodlit facilities in Sidford – and both proved ideal for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT).

Town councillors have backed the move in principle and said they will allocate £2,285.86 to install kit so the lights can be operated remotely.

Rugby club chairman Lester Wilmington said: “As a grassroots club, we are happy to work with the community to provide additional facilities that might help in an emergency.

“I don’t think we’ve used the air ambulance in recent years but there’s always the possibility. We are delighted to help if we possibly can.”

The DAAT has local links. It was founded after 18-year-old Ceri Thomas was knocked off his bike in Sidbury and tragically died.

His mum, Ann Ralli, was told the quicker someone gets emergency treatment, the more likely they are to survive – and so started her tireless fundraising.

Devon’s first air ambulance flew its inaugural mission in 1992, and now the cause is looking to extend its flight hours until midnight. The charity eventually hopes to offer a 24-hour service.

A community awareness and partnership programme will be implemented before the new night-flying service commences.

Town council chairman Jeff Turner said the pitches offer landing sites at the top and bottom of the town, and help meet DAAT’s aim to have as many facilities as possible.

He said he was pleased the council was able to support the charity with the Woolley Bequest.

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