130~000 GBP RAISED FOR AIR AMBULANCES AS TOP JOCKEY JASON MAGUIRE TELLS HIS DRAMATIC STORY

Two stories of people who would not be here were it not for the Air Ambulance Service vied neck-and-neck in the drama stakes at Cheltenham racecourse on Wednesday night (April 30) - and the winning prize was 130,000 GBP.
 
The occasion, sponsored by Healthy Pets Insurance, was a fundraiser at the Cheltenham Hunter Chase Evening Meeting in support of Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) and Great Western Air Ambulance (GWAA).
 
One dramatic story was high-profile, the other, involving insurance grandee David Seel, fairly anonymous - but each were life-changing and quite possibly life-saving.
 
Leading jockey Jason Maguire, who was airlifted to hospital after falling and being kicked by a horse at Stratford in March, came straight to the event from a hospital visit for ongoing treatment following his race fall.

During the incident he was also kicked by a horse - which transformed his fall from being bruising to being potentially fatal. He told the audience how he was saved by Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance (WNAA) who got emergency medics to him in minutes, and then transferred him to hospital equally quickly. WNAA's charity partner for the evening, which covers Cheltenham, is the Great Western Air Ambulance (GWAA).
 
Each, like all air ambulance services, rely on charitable donations, and were beneficiaries of the fundraiser at the Cheltenham Hunter Chase Evening Meeting to the tune of that 130,000 GBP - ten times greater than the biggest amount ever achieved at a WNAA air ambulance fundraiser. 

Sponsors included Knight Frank, The Buying Solution, Healthy Pets Insurance and Duralock, as well as a number of business and individuals providing auction lots and other support.
 
Grand National-winning jockey Jason Maguire said: "Who knows what could have happened had the air ambulance not been on hand. Words don't do justice. But some words I do need to say are that I couldn't believe that air ambulances are not government funded - that they are paid for by charitable donations is amazing."
 
The event had been organised by a Warwickshire man who almost exactly a year ago was told he had 10 minutes to live - but made a full and fast recovery thanks to WNAA's speed and professionalism.
 
David Seel, 67, from Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire, chairman of Healthy Pets insurance, suffered a spontaneous burst vein and lost five pints of blood in a matter of minutes on April 19, 2013 - and was only saved by the speed with which an air ambulance made it to his home.
 
The event organised by David at Cheltenham racecourse involved an evening's racing, then a reception, dinner and auction.
 
"It's a great shame that it often takes incidents involving high profile people to really hammer home the message about air ambulances being charity donation funded, and to highlight the astonishing work they do. Who knows what may have befallen Jason had the WNAA air ambulance not been on hand," said David Seel.
 
The two services primarily cover Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and the north east of Somerset, but are often called in to help much further afield - including major incidents elsewhere in the UK.
 
"Air ambulances aren't just designed to get accident or illness victims to hospital quickly - they are designed to bring the hospital's accident and emergency unit to the patient. As well as paramedics, air ambulance crews include doctors capable of carrying out on-the-ground surgical procedures - as I discovered," said event organiser David Seel.
 
"I know the value of the region's air ambulances after two near-fatal incidents - the one involving myself, and another involving my gardener. In my case, people around me were saying I had around ten minutes to live - with one witness saying he believed I'd actually gone.
 
"I live and work in a world of figures and statistics. The statistics that struck me were that the air ambulance that rescued both myself and my gardener could be anywhere in my home county of Warwickshire within nine minutes, and that GWAA and WNAA - who as a matter of course assist on each other's patches - carry out something like 3,000 missions a year - one in five of the most critical tasks saves a life which would otherwise be lost," said David.

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