The fundraising drive for a second charity helicopter air ambulance for Scotland took to the road today as transport giant Stagecoach Group pledged a six-figure sum towards the appeal.
Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) currently operates the country's only charity-funded helicopter air ambulance. Recently revealed plans, however, outlined the charity's £6 million fundraising target to put a second life-saving resource in the air.
Today, Stagecoach Chairman Sir Brian Souter visited the charity's Perth Airport base to outline the company's on-going support for the charity - with £125,000 pledged for each of the next three years towards the new aircraft appeal.
And a fully SCAA branded Stagecoach bus will help promote the fundraising appeal as it operates on routes across Scotland including services to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Dunblane, Perth, Dundee and Inverness.
Stagecoach Group has been a key sponsor of SCAA since the air ambulance launched five years ago. Stagecoach Group and the Souter Charitable Trust have donated more than £650,000 to the charity since it began.
Sir Brian Souter said he was pleased to be associated with the appeal to fund a second life-saving resource for SCAA.
"We are proud to once again be funding this important, life-saving piece of equipment for Scotland," he said.
"Over the years the helicopter has helped to save many lives and Stagecoach is delighted to be the first corporate partner to announce dedicated funding towards the new helicopter."
Since launching operations from their Perth Airport base five years ago, SCAA's sole helicopter has responded to over 1,700 time-critical emergencies from Orkney to the Borders and the Hebrides to the East coast.
Working alongside the Scottish Government-funded two helicopter air ambulances and two fixed wing aircraft, SCAA is tasked as part of the country's 999 network resources.
Having announced their intention to fundraise for a second life-saving helicopter, SCAA is now in talks with relevant partners to discuss where a second charity-funded helicopter should be based.
And SCAA chairman John Bullough believes this funding boost by Stagecoach will prove the perfect springboard for their public appeal.
"Stagecoach Group has been a great supporter of our work since the beginning and their input helped provide Scotland with our first charity-funded air ambulance in 2013," he said.
"This tremendous new commitment of support will help secure a second helicopter to save and improve the lives of those most in need throughout the whole of Scotland.
"We are deeply indebted to Sir Brian and everyone at Stagecoach for their support - something which will be heralded across Scotland thanks to their newly unveiled SCAA branded bus."
SCAA Chief Executive David Craig said the £6 million funding appeal for a second helicopter air ambulance was aimed at everyone in Scotland.
"The public - as well as companies, trusts and foundations - have kept SCAA flying for five years and allowed the charity to become a sustainable and vital player in pre-hospital care," he said.
"We now need their support more than ever as we work towards launching a second air ambulance that can aid those seriously ill or injured wherever they are in Scotland."