This week’s speaker is Cyril Mannion who is a former airline captain who gives talks and presentations on aviation to clubs and groups within the UK. Here he shares his love of the Wiltshire Air ambulance which saves lives everyday.
John: Cyril, welcome to our Speaker slot. We all know your wife Charlotte but most of us didn’t know about your work with the Wiltshire Air Ambulance. Can you tell us how you became involved?
Cyril: Until the end of December 2014, Wiltshire Air Ambulance shared a helicopter with Wiltshire Police Service. The end of this arrangement was foreseen, so in 2012, Wiltshire Air Ambulance advertised their need for volunteers to help their full time staff in a number of roles. I was attracted by their requirement for volunteers to speak on behalf of the charity. As well as the standard presentation delivered to organisations who request more details of the charity’s work, there is a frequent requirement to accept donation cheques and say some words of thanks and appreciation. I offer to do speaking slots in the area of Swindon and North East Wiltshire.
John: This is a vital support service but are there any unusual call outs you know about to perhaps unusual and less expected places?
Cyril: As a result of our heritage of a shared service with the Police, we have always had the ability to fly in darkness and consequently offer the ambulance service for 19 hours out of 24. This has been a privilege enjoyed by only two Air Ambulance Services in the UK though currently more Emergency Rescue are getting the equipment and Civil Aviation Authority clearances required to fly in the darkness of the night hours. By definition, helicopters are required to go to places inaccessible to road vehicles. For example, horse riding, running and mountain biking accidents often happen in places which cannot be accessed by a road vehicle ambulance. The range of reasons for call out are very wide and range from medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest or stroke, through to accidents in the home or on the road.
John: I know the Devon Air Ambulance gets a lot of support especially from Devon Local Radio. Is the Wiltshire Air Ambulance well supported by the community?
Cyril: Since January 2015, Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a stand alone charity which needs to raise about £2.25 million annually so that we can offer the air Ambulance service 19 hours per day to the people of Wiltshire. From our current base in Devizes, the helicopter can fly to any part of Wiltshire within a maximum of 11 minutes. From the scene of the rescue, it can transport the patient to the major trauma hospitals of Bristol, Bath, Southampton or Oxford within 15 minutes. Once they become aware that the service is provided by charitable donations, the people of Wiltshire are very generous with their money and giving their time to support the Air Ambulance. This goodwill and generosity is essential when it costs £6850 each day to keep the service running.
John: Apart from Charlotte if you could invite one famous person to dinner who would that be and why?
Cyril: I am assuming you meant Charlotte would not be a fellow guest! As I would prefer to dine with a female, and I prefer strong, ambitious, determined interesting women so I will restrict my potential candidates to that small select group!
At a funeral last April, I met Mrs Marion Paviour who has been Chairman of Trustees of The Hawk Conservancy Trust and formerly Chairman of the Trustees of The Army Museum of Flying. She is an extremely determined person with a brusqueness and intelligence that was exhilarating to observe. At the outset, we had only our deceased friend as a subject in common, yet we sat together and chatted for nearly one hour, which is not bad having never met before. Dinner with Marion would be a scintillating evening I feel sure. I feel inspired by people who can set about a task and get it done efficiently. I envy them that skill and hope I can learn from them.
John: I know you get support from other Rotary Clubs and Organisations but how do you feel our E.Club can support the Air Ambulance?
Cyril: As we need to drive the message that the Air Ambulance Service is entirely funded by charitable donations, the wide range of contacts known to E-Rotarians should be targeted and requested to fundraise. Donations from small to large all help towards the £6850 per day needed to keep us flying. For E-Rotarians who live in Wiltshire, the charity always opens its arms in welcome to willing volunteers helpers who are needed at our fundraising events.
You can access the WAACT website and learn more about the work of the charity on: http://www.wiltshireairambulance.co.uk/what-we-do/incidents
Or if you are looking for a speaker for your group or club visit Captain Cyril for more information.
John: Many thanks Cyril for a very interesting insight into the work of the Air Ambulance and I’m sure all Members will be happy to help fundraise for such a vital and needed service.