Support for air ambulance pitch to use Ottery Football Club as night landing site

The Devon Air Ambulance takes off. Picture: Simon Horn

The Devon Air Ambulance takes off. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

‘Extending life-saving service could make big difference to the community’

Ottery Football Club and town councillors have thrown their support behind a charity’s life-saving bid that ‘could make a big difference for the community’.

Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) is appealing for community support with plans to extend its service into the night from the end of October, enabling response teams to save vital time in reaching casualties.

The charity has earmarked the football club’s main pitch as an ideal site because it is flat, already has floodlighting and is in close proximity to the town - and has asked the town council to help fund and support the bid.

Speaking at a town council meeting on Monday, Councillor Roger Giles urged the landowner of the site, the Coleridge estate, to support the bid so there was no delay in setting up the ‘essential’ facility.

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He said: “It’s absolutely outrageous if the landowner says no to such a community benefit. It does seem the ideal site.”

The council has agreed to contact the landowner of the site to discuss the bid.

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The manager and interim secretary for the football club, Dave Fairweather, said: “It’s something that, of course, the club would be really happy to support. It could make a big difference for our community.

“We are in negotiations with the landlord to extend the lease and would like to have a long-term lease to give us the opportunity to apply for more funding.”

DAAT’s community helipads development officer Toby Russell explained the charity could ‘piggyback’ off existing floodlights at the club, and would need to invest around £1,000 on buying and installing an electronic switch, which would be operated by mobile SIM card.

This option would present significant cost savings compared to unlit sites.

If the go-ahead is given, it would be down to the community to fund the equipment – a cost that is likely to be shared between Ottery’s county councillor Claire Wright and the town council.

Trustees of the Coleridge estate have confirmed they have been approached by DAAT and are considering the request.

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