New group hoping to ‘keep the air ambulance flying’

n James Speers.

AIR Ambulance NI (AANI) has announced the launch of its ‘Agribusiness Group’, which will actively promote the work of the charity and encourage support within the agri sector.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Barclay Bell, a trustee of AANI and the person behind gathering the group together, spoke of his reasons for establishing the network: “The air ambulance service relies heavily on charity funding, aspiring to raise £2 million a year to sustain and develop pre-hospital critical care.

n Raymond Bready. :

“This life-saving service is already a major benefit to farmers and rural communities. In isolated rural areas it can be difficult for medical services to reach, treat and transport people. The air ambulance helps tackle that and aims to save lives, brains and limbs. Fundraising has been hit hard with the health pandemic, yet we know there is a strong supporter base and willingness to help in rural communities. We hope the agribusiness group will help harness that for the charity.”

Mr Bell, who is a farmer on a mixed farm in Rathfriland, is a past President of the Ulster Farmers’ Union and actively involved with several other farming organisations. During his tenure as UFU president he helped raise £200,000 for the Air Ambulance NI charity and said: “Our agricultural sector has really embraced the work of air ambulance and this group are bringing their skills, experience and passion for their community to help Northern Ireland maintain its only air ambulance service.”

The group is made up of eight other members:

Aurelie Moralis from Castlewellan, who is a qualified vet now working in the animal health pharmaceutical industry;

Martyn Blair from Finvoy, a full-time farmer with qualifications in agricultural economics and marketing;

Oonagh Chesney of Portglenone, Company Secretary of Fane Valley Co-Op Society Ltd and all group subsidiary companies and who is currently serving her second term on the board of the Livestock and Meat Commission;

James Speers, a farmer and past president of the Young Farmers Clubs of Ulster from Markethill;

Jennifer Hawkes from Omagh, a fourth-generation pedigree dairy farmer and the current Chair of the Ulster Farmers’ Union rural affairs committee and a member of the Trustees Board of Rural Support;

Raymond Bready, originally from

Rathfriland, now living in Don-aghadee, a Key Accounts Manager for John Thompson and Sons and commentator for equestrian events across Europe;

Libby Clarke from Magheralin, who is a cattle breeder, cattle

judge and runs her own estate agency;

Caroline Doyle, Agricultural Bus-iness Manager for Barclays Bank.

The Helicopter Emergency Med-ical Service (HEMS) for Northern Ireland is delivered by a partner-ship between the charity Air Ambulance Northern Ireland and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.

It’s a service that responds to critically ill and injured patients on average twice a day and can be the difference between life and death.

Glenn O’Rorke, Operational Lead for the HEMS, said: “Our very first call out was to a farming incident and farming and agricultural incidents account for up to 11 per cent of call outs. This includes accidents involving farm machinery, slurry or cattle.

“Unfortunately, on average, there is a farming call every week with no decrease through the pandemic. It is never lost on us that behind every call out is a patient, their family and local community.

“We are really touched that the rural and agricultural communities are continuing to support and thank everyone involved in the newly established agribusiness group.”

Speaking about their reasons for joining the group, some of the members said:

Aurelie Moralis: “I was delighted when Barclay Bell phoned to see if I would like to become part of the Agribusiness Air Ambulance NI fundraising group. As a vet, a mother, living on the farm and a keen hillwalker, I am very aware of the everyday dangers we are exposed to. When accidents happen on a farm, whether it is with livestock, or machinery, time is often of the essence, which is why we must keep the Air Ambulance flying.”

Martyn Blair: “I was delighted to be asked to be involved in this committee. Air Ambulance NI is such a crucial and important service to the people of Northern Ireland and in particular those of us living in rural areas and working in often remote and challenging environments. I hope to bring my experience of years of fundraising through the YFCU into our ideas for events and campaigns for AANI. I am extremely excited to be working with such a talented and experienced group of peers and hope we can raise substantial funds in the coming years.”

Jennifer Hawkes: “The Air Am-bulance is an invaluable resource for the people of Northern Ireland, every day it delivers critical lifesaving pre-hospital medical care to patients. Knowing the difference this service can make I didn’t hesitate to come on board when I was approached to be part of the Agribusiness group. I look forward to working with the other innovative and enthusiastic team members and hopefully our combined knowledge and experience base

will help to encourage the necessary fundraising to allow the organisation to continue its service development.”

Raymond Bready: “I have now been given the opportunity, and

n Oonagh Chesney. :

challenge, to promote and en-courage the generous people of Northern Ireland to raise funds for AANI. My role will be to connect with the equestrian industry here across NI. If I can be involved in raising even £1 for this hugely worthwhile charity, then my job will be a success. The two million pounds required each year to keep the amazing charity flying starts with the smallest donation.”


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