West Hill officially opens landing site
- Credit: Archant
A lifesaving facility allowing air ambulances to land throughout the night has officially opened in West Hill.
Pupils from West Hill Primary School cheered when they were told the community had rallied to raise £3,000 to install a new column and lights to ensure the project had lift-off.
The children were told in an assembly on Friday (June 14) before the official opening of the site.
The 10-metre steel column will be installed on the school's playing field and can be turned on by the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) remotely from its control centre.
Members of the Otter Vale Probus Club teamed up with the parish council and primary school to raise the money.
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Tony Wilkinson, fundraising co-ordinator for the Probus club, said: "I am absolutely delighted that the DAA Landing Site in West Hill is operational.
"The support that I received from friends, neighbours and members of the community and, of course, members of Otter Vale Probus Club has been immense.
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"Thank you to everybody who donated money to provide this important life-saving village facility."
Margaret Hall, chairman of West Hill Parish Council, thanked the Probus club for spearheading the fundraising efforts and the school for allowing the use of the field.
She added: "The parish council is delighted that the community has come together to raise the funds to enable the night-time landing site to be established in West Hill."
Planning permission for the installation of the column was granted by East Devon District Council in May.
DAAT now has more than 120 landing sites across Devon.
Toby Russell, the charity's community helipads development officer, thanked the community for the 'fantastic job' raising the money for the new lighting.
He added: "Local residents might have seen the aircraft during a training/familiarisation flight last week and whilst we hope we don't have to use the site in an emergency, we can now access West Hill until 2am every day."
DAA hopes to have up to 250 sites in the county in the next two to three years. There have been several night landing sites set up in East Devon by the charity.