A RESIDENT of Winson, near Cirencester, who was deputy chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse for 22 years, has been appointed chairman of The County Air Ambulance Trust and the HELP Appeal.

Michael Henriques, has been a trustee of the charity for the last eight years.

The County Air Ambulance Trust is the only national air ambulance charity in the country funding life-saving hospital helipads and its HELP Appeal has funded 25 much needed helipads at Major Trauma Centres, key hospitals and air ambulance air bases, including Wiltshire Air Ambulance since 2009.

Over this time, 10,000 landings have taken place on HELP Appeal funded hospital helipads with another 12 new helipads and upgrades to existing helipads are planned in 2019.

Hugh Meynell, MBE who helped found the charity in 1993 has retired as chairman after 25 years’ service.

Locally the HELP Appeal has helped to fund helipads at Gloucester Royal Hospital, Bristol Royal Infirmary and Bristol Southmead hospital which have seen just under 1500 landings. It is also funding Worcester Royal Hospital’s new helipad which is due to open in 2019.

The charity’s work extends from the Western Isles Hospital in Scotland to St Mary’s Hospital in the Isle of Wight. It has also funded Aintree University Hospital in the North West and Ipswich Hospital in the East with many more in between.

Since 2016, the HELP Appeal has also been the sole funder of DIFFS (Deck Integrated Fire Fighting Systems) on roof top hospital helipads, which can put out a fire within 15 seconds using nozzles that spray water and foam.

Michael Henriques said: "I am convinced from my own experience with horseracing, and sports in general that hospital helipads are lifesavers.

"I have seen jockeys being airlifted off racecourses and I know that the speedy reception and admittance into emergency departments after landing on a hospital helipad is crucial and lifesaving - and certainly aids a speedy recovery from sustained injury.

"That is why I am excited to be appointed Chairman of the County Air Ambulance Trust and the HELP Appeal.

"The charity has achieved a huge amount, but there is so much more to do. We have over 50 projects in the pipeline.”