The Princess Royal celebrates 30th anniversary of Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance service

The Princess Royal has been hearing first-hand about the life-saving work done by the air ambulance for Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

Princess Anne visited the headquarters of the service which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

In that time, the air ambulance has dealt with more than 30,000 patients and saved hundreds of lives. New, bigger helicopters now allow paramedics to carry out even more emergency treatment in mid-air

  • Watch Malcolm Shaw's report below:

It's the busiest air ambulance in the country, and the only one to operate 24/7. The three helicopters serving Kent, Surrey and Sussex work out of Redhill aerodrome.

Today, the Princess Royal flew in to meet staff and patients. Among them, Jim Hardwick who was critically injured in a bicycle accident in a remote location near Rudgwick. The air ambulance flew him to hospital in London for the specialist treatment which saved his life.

  • Jim Hardwick, Air ambulance patient:

The air ambulance serves a population of 4.7million people across the South East. It's celebrating its 30th anniversary, having treated over 30,000 patients in that time.

Anne, Princess Royal unveiling the plaque Credit: ITV Meridian

The step changes that have been made in 30 years are really quite extraordinary, and I suspect there may be a few more to come. A lot of that, given that you are the only 24 hour service, would come from here.

Anne, Princess Royal

The patient as at the heart of everything we do, and that's the service and support that we provide across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.

David Welch, Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex
Doctors and paramedics are trained on a simulator on site Credit: ITV Meridian

The service has 40 doctors and 34 paramedics.

They're trained on a simulator on site which exactly replicates the interior of the new Augusta AW169.

  • Ben Macauley, Paramedic:

It costs around £38,000 each day to run the air ambulance service. Almost 90% of the funding comes from the public, through activities like a lottery.

It's our biggest income stream at the moment. It brings in about 54% of the charity's income through our free lotteries that we run every week and also free raffle campaigns that are run on annual basis.

James Cook, Head of Lotteries & Gaming
Jim Hardwick's wife Amy was due to have to have their second daughter Mabel just a few days after his accident Credit: ITV Meridian

Jim Hardwick's wife Amy was due to have to have their second daughter Mabel just a few days after his accident. She might never have met her father, were it not for the life-saving work of the air ambulance.