Shoppers and store staff raise thousands for airborne rescuers

Cheque presentation by Sainsburys to Sussex Air Ambulance. l-r Cheryl Johnson (Sussex Air Ambulance), with Sainsburys employees Rob Lyne, Charlotte Wiles and Amy underwood
Cheque presentation by Sainsburys to Sussex Air Ambulance. l-r Cheryl Johnson (Sussex Air Ambulance), with Sainsburys employees Rob Lyne, Charlotte Wiles and Amy underwood

Customers and staff at Sainsbury’s store in Haywards Heath have donated more than £4,650 to life-savers at Sussex Air Ambulance.

Two cheques for £4,450 and £200 were handed over to the charity emergency rescue service’s representative Cheryl Johnson at the Bannister Way superstore.

The Haywards Heath branch adopted the charity as its good cause after two-year-old Freya Ross from Lindfield swallowed a toy dog.

Freya was rushed by air ambulance to Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton where surgeons carried out an emergency operation.

The two-year-old’s accident and the part played by the air ambulance inspired Sainsbury’s staff and shoppers to chose it to raise money for.

At the time, Sainsbury’s store manager Peter Barret said: “I believe there were two main reasons for this, first they saw it as a charity that really does change lives and is invaluable to have if ever we were unfortunate to ever be in such an accident.

“Secondly, they couldn’t believe that a service so desperately needed was not government funded and felt that they wanted to help in any way they could.”

Staff held a family weekend in December featuring Air Ambulance mascot Dr Dudley, an exhibition unit and a store collection.

Previously they arranged in-store competitions, a quiz night, a tombola, lollypop lucky dip, raffle and face painting.

In addition, staff member Amy Underwood did her own assault course challenge and raised £200 for the same cause after being sponsored by friends and colleagues

The air ambulance helicopter fliers operate two aircraft for Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance and rely on charitable giving to keep airbourne.

The service needs £5million a year and pilots, doctors and critical care paramedics attended more than 1,000 call-outs in 2012.

The crews are called out to serious road accidents and domestic medical emergencies when a patient needs to be transferred as fast as possible for life-saving treatment.

Air ambulance head of Corporate Relations Cheryl Johnson said it was delighted by support from that Haywards Heath store in helping to raise funds and awareness among customers and the community.