Playing Christmas carols in and around Guildford has enabled Friary Guildford Band to present a cheque for £2,227.47 to the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust. ‘The Band has always played Christmas carols to raise funds for charity,’ explained Friary’s Secretary, Lauren Cave. ‘Four years ago, we decided to collect for the Surrey Air Ambulance. Little did we know that, only four months later, one of our cornet players, Chris Powell, would need their services after the forks on his mountain bike snapped, leaving him unconscious, with a broken neck and other injuries.’ Chris Powell takes up the story: ‘Fortunately, I was airlifted by the Air Ambulance from Bisley to the Royal Surrey County Hospital.’ ‘When the doctor told me how bad my injury was, my natural reaction was to nod and he said, ‘No, don’t do that, you’ve broken your neck!’ ‘I feel incredibly lucky that their speedy intervention helped me to make a full recovery.’ Accepting the cheque on behalf of the Trust at a Band rehearsal, volunteer John Glenister explained that no statutory government or National Lottery funding is received. He said: ‘We rely on public support to raise the £5million needed each year to keep our two helicopters operating. And from next month, we will have a replacement helicopter specially equipped for night flying, giving 24-hour emergency coverage, but that will cost a further £1m a year.’ ‘We are very grateful to the dedicated Friary Guildford players who spent many a chilly hour entertaining Christmas shoppers in order to help us keep flying,’ he added. In the first five weeks of 2013, the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulances have attended 110 call-outs. In 2012, there were 1,400 of which 30% were road traffic collisions. Each call-out costs about £2,500 so the sum raised by Friary Guildford will help fund one potentially life-saving mission.
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