Simon Le Bon praises new Children’s Air Ambulance

16:26 31 October 2012

Simon Le Bon, with (from left to right)Thomas Bickell 6, Fiona Bickell, Eleanor Bickell, Naomi Cook, Emma Cook, Daniel Cook and Shelley Riphagen at today

Simon Le Bon, with (from left to right)Thomas Bickell 6, Fiona Bickell, Eleanor Bickell, Naomi Cook, Emma Cook, Daniel Cook and Shelley Riphagen at today's launch. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

David Parry / PA Wire

Duran Duran star Simon Le Bon appeared at the official launch of a new rescue service aimed at getting children and babies to hospital as quickly as possible.

Simon Le Bon helped launch today's event. Picture: David Parry/PA WireSimon Le Bon helped launch today's event. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

The Children’s Air Ambulance, the first of its kind in the country, aims to cut travel times and transport specialist paediatric teams to those in need.

It hopes to start as early as next year, making 400 flights.

Mr Le Bon, 54, revealed today how a sea rescue saved his life and persuaded him to campaign for the new service.

He said: “I had a bad experience about 25 years ago with a boat called Drum which lost its keel during the FastNet Race. I was rescued by the Royal Navy and their helicopter and diver. So I’ve experienced helicopter rescue first hand.

What's in here then? Simon and the youngsters examine the vehicle. Picture: David Parry/PA WireWhat's in here then? Simon and the youngsters examine the vehicle. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

“I was in an air pocket inside a boat that was upside down for an hour. The first sign of hope was when a Navy diver popped up and said ‘I’m going to get you guys out of here’.

“The relief and elation that the six of us who were inside felt was incredible.”

The Children’s Air Ambulance relies on charitable donations and needs to raise £545,000 before becoming operational next year. A further £134,000 is required every month to keep the helicopter in flight.

Alex Toft, director of operations and clinical services of The Air Ambulance, called the launch “hugely exciting”.

He said: “After months of planning, we’re now entering a two-month phase of training and fundraising - our crew will be visiting five children’s transfer groups across the UK for familiarisation purposes - before beginning to undertake missions in early 2013.”

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