Tower Lotteries are proud to work with 14 of the 21 air ambulance charities throughout The United Kingdom, relationships with some that stretch as far back as 2008. Not only do Tower Lotteries recruit members for the lifesaving lotteries run by these invaluable charities, but we also act as an External Lottery Managers for several of them and effectively run the draw from start to finish.
When Tower Lotteries started out fundraising for air ambulances all those years ago, they looked very different to how they do now. Many of the charities operated just one helicopter for a set number of hours each day, and they ran these services from portacabins in many instances. Such is the expense of operating an air ambulance, that these charities were only able to have the helicopters available for certain periods of the day, and not even every day in the early stages.
Totally reliant on generating their own income, the air ambulance community started to grow and grow, and Tower Lotteries were at the heart of that due to our fundraisers. Week-by-week, new donors were recruited at vast levels such was the general public’s desire to support their local lifesaving cause; a cause that many of them could see first-hand when the helicopter landed in their village, town or city or came to the rescue of a family member in their hour of need. As income grew, so did the service these charities could provide; 5 hours a day became 8 hours a day, 5 days a week became 7 days a week and one helicopter became two and then eventually three for some. The drugs and equipment they carried onboard became better, some started to carry blood and the positive impact this can have on somebody as a result of a nasty road traffic collision or a sporting injury. Rapid responses vehicles were added to the fleet to provide additional support at busy times of the day and now new airbases spring up all over the country to bring those that work for the air ambulance ‘together’.
Such has been the advancement of the service provided by air ambulances in The UK, that paramedics and doctors from all over the world now come for secondment at these charities. Only last week, fundraisers for Essex & Herts AA made a trip to the base and met a paramedic from New Zealand and Doctor from Canada, both of whom were with EHAAT to learn new skills and take them back to their respective countries in due course.
At the heart of this phenomenal success story has been the lifesaving lotteries that form the backbone of the income for every air ambulance. Across the country, lottery income accounts for 51.5% of the money raised, where would these charities be without that money? In 2019, income from lotteries for the air ambulance sector in The United Kingdom will top £50m. That isn’t turnover, it is profit and it enables these lifesaving charities to provide the unbelievable service they do. It costs an average of £3.25m to operate an air ambulance for a year, and such is the vast and detailed operation that many provide, operating costs for those that fly two or three helicopters and operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, can easily top £10m a year.
Today, there are 39 air ambulances operational across The United Kingdom. That figure will hit 40 in early 2020 when Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance launch their second helicopter, Helimed 79, from Aberdeen International Airport. SCAA are the youngest air ambulance that Tower Lotteries work with, having formed in 2013, however it cannot be a coincidence that they are now able to operate and fund a second helicopter within 6 years of launching as a charity, something that many of their counterparts in England and Wales were able to do many years ago.
So, next time you are out shopping and see an air ambulance fundraiser, stop and sign up for their lottery. They cannot fly without the help of the general public!