Devon Air Ambulance shop to land in Sidmouth

The Sidmouth founder of Devon Air Ambulance is ‘delighted’ a fundraising shop is finally opening in her home town.

Now in its 20th year, the charity is returning to its roots in the area, as it was founded in Sidbury by Ann Ralli after the tragic death of her 18-year-old son Ceri Thomas.

Devon Air Ambulance bosses searched for a long time for suitable premises in the area, and have now exchanged terms for a lease in the old Julian Graves shop in Church Street.

Ann said: “I cannot thank the people of Devon enough, and particularly Sidmouth and Sidbury, our home, for their continued incredible moral, emotional and fundraising support.”

She added: “This is another development which lifts the heart.”

Ceri and his siblings went to school in Sidbury and Sidmouth, and all could be found working holiday jobs in Sidmouth.

Hel�na Holt, chief executive of the charity, said: “Our charity shops have proved extremely effective not just at raising funds for the charity but also providing a base for local volunteers and supporters.

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“In the last six months we’ve flown 27 missions to Sidmouth and the surrounding area so it is very busy for us.

“However, this is more than reflected in the level of support the charity receives from local people and so we are delighted to finally be in a position to put down roots within the community.”

Hel�na is keen to allay fears that the shop will be out of keeping with the neighbouring businesses after some necessary repairs are made.

The Julian Graves shop has remained unoccupied since the firm went into administration in August.

“We do need to make some alterations to straighten the windows and ensure the frontage is structurally sound, accessible and watertight but we specifically intend to retain the marble, the leaded lights in the windows and protect the mosaic flooring,” she said.

The new shop’s fundraising will go towards the �4 million bill for a second helicopter, to replace the leased one next year.

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