The Duke of Cambridge hailed the work of London’s Air Ambulance Charity as he urged guests at a gala dinner to help raise £15 million needed for new helicopters.
William, who flew air ambulance helicopters, said he had seen “first-hand the difference trauma teams can make to those in need”.
In March 2020, the duke became patron of London’s Air Ambulance Charity, a service he understands well as he served as a helicopter pilot with the East Anglian Air Ambulance, flying missions for two years before stepping down in July 2017 to focus on his royal duties.
He told the guests gathered for the black-tie event at a central London hotel: “What struck me when working as an air ambulance pilot was how serious injury does not discriminate.
“It can happen to anyone. At any time. In any place. Just one moment can turn a life upside down.
“Earlier this evening, I had the great privilege to meet a young man named Bruno, and his father Daniel. At age 11, Bruno was knocked off his scooter by a vehicle and suffered a serious brain injury.
“London’s Air Ambulance flew to him immediately, arriving within minutes to bring the hospital to his side and saving his life.”
He also praised the efforts of crews flying across the capital helping to save lives, saying: “London’s airspace is amongst the most difficult in the world in which to fly.
“The city is congested, and landing spaces are in short supply.
“And over the last two years the coronavirus pandemic has added further difficulty to an already challenging situation.
“This makes all the more impressive the work that London’s Air Ambulance doctors, paramedics, pilots and support staff undertake every day to provide a life-saving service for the capital.”
The London’s Air Ambulance Charity Gala was raising funds for the Up Against Time appeal, which is seeking £15 million to replace the service’s two helicopters by the end of 2024.
Since its inception in 1989, London’s Air Ambulance has delivered life-saving treatment at the scene to an estimated 10 million people.
Before the dinner began William chatted to ambulance crews, who wore their orange overalls, and also supporters of the charity and volunteers.
Lynsey Grant, lead paramedic with London’s Air Ambulance Charity, joked with the future king who easily slipped back into crew banter.
The duke made the group laugh when he asked “Who’s going to carry all the bags?”, a reference to the medical kit the pilots would bring for their medical colleagues, and Ms Grant cheekily said the royal should join them for a drink.
By the end of the pre-dinner reception Ms Grant and a colleague reappeared wearing their evening dresses and William quipped “That was a real Bond moment” about their quick change.
Ms Grant said afterwards: “He really understands what we do and what we’re about, the challenges we face and how we work as a team. He’s been part of that, at a different organisation obviously, but he gets it.”