A life-saving air ambulance charity has been given the keys to a brand-new airbase.

Essex and Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) has has officially opened its new base at North Weald Airfield after construction work began in February 2020.

In a socially distanced handover EHAAT CEO Jane Gurney and Cliff Gale, EHAAT’s operations director, held an opening ceremony via video link in order to comply with the current lockdown restrictions.

Jane Gurney said: “The handing over of this building today by Barnes Construction marks yet another milestone in what is a very important project for the charity. The opportunity to design and build our own airbase has allowed us to include elements such as dedicated areas for training which will benefit not only our crews but also the local pre-hospital care community along with an interactive visitor centre for our supporters, who we look forward to welcoming to this incredible new building when such visits become possible again.

"On behalf of the trustees and the executive team I would like to thank Barnes Construction, associated partners and suppliers for all their hard work and support in seeing this project through to completion in such a professional manner especially with the added pressures the pandemic presented.

"I would also like to thank our amazing fundraisers and donors for helping us secure the future operation of the charity at North Weald for many years to come by supporting us and making this possible”.

Mark Hart, joint divisional managing director of Barnes Construction, said: “We are proud to have played a key part in the construction of this new airbase, which is a true community-based project that will help everyone. The project has been a collaborative team effort and I’m very grateful to Castons, Superstructures and Hurley Porte and Duell in particular, for helping us to get the scheme delivered on time, and under the most extreme and challenging circumstances due to Covid-19”.

In addition to housing one of EHAAT’s two helicopters and two of its rapid response vehicles, the new building has areas for training, mentoring, patient liaison and fundraising.

Part of the new airbase will be a dedicated interactive visitor centre which will allow the charity to welcome and engage with the local community.

The new hangar features underground heating beneath the helipad to keep it free of snow and ice during the winter months.

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