Air ambulance offers billboard thanks to supporters

Sarah BrealeyA giant message on a bus stop is thanking supporters of the region's air ambulance for helping it through difficult times. Although fundraising has become more difficult, the flow of donations has not dropped in the recession and the air ambulance has been able to keep on flying.Sarah Brealey

A giant message on a bus stop is thanking supporters of the region's air ambulance for helping it through difficult times.

Although fundraising has become more difficult, the flow of donations has not dropped in the recession and the air ambulance has been able to keep on flying.

And the special message on the advert in Castle Meadow in Norwich has not used any air ambulance funds - it is on a Wispa Gold advert as part of the chocolate bar's current campaign.

Simon Gray, managing director of the East Anglian air ambulance, said: 'It is just to thank people locally during what is a difficult time. I think that people are thinking closer to home when it comes to thinking about charitable donations, so we are able to maintain our service in the region despite the recession but having to work much harder for every penny. We have not seen a reduction in income, whereas I think large national charities have been more affected.'


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The message says: 'Thank you for supporting us in these difficult times. From the patients, crew and staff of the East Anglian Air Ambulance. www.eaaa.org.uk, 08450 669999. From Simon Gray and Wispa Gold with love.'

The manufacturer Cadbury says it wanted to thank the public for helping to bring Wispa Gold back, so 'decided to give you our advertising space, to have your own special message posted on a billboard, in a location of your choice'.

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Mr Gray added that the charity was having more success in reaching younger people through its website and other sites such as video sharing site Youtube. The air ambulance has put a few short films about its work onto Youtube, one of which has been watched more than 11,000 times. And members of the public have also posted dozens of their own clips of the ambulance taking off and landing and even personal stories. One Ipswich man even filmed the whole story of his car crash from his recovery in hospital to his reunion with paramedics.

Mr Gray said: 'They drive people towards our website, so that is very important. That side of things is something we have got to get smarter with. We are having to diversify and work harder to keep revenue levels up, and these type of social networking and online presences really are starting to have some impact upon fundraising.'

Have you got a message on a Wispa advert? Contact us on 01603 772485 or email sarah.brealey@archant.co.uk.

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