Wiltshire Publications

Wiltshire Air Ambulance helicopters aplenty at Bath Half

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MORE than 50 people raised vital funds for Wiltshire Air Ambulance by running the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday (17 March), whilst its helicopter flew overhead.

The Wiltshire Air Ambulance team, which included people who were due to run the Bath Half last year before it was cancelled due to snow, saw the charity’s temporary MD 902 helicopter take to the skies after being called to an incident nearby.

It was especially poignant for Stuart Hershbein, 39, of Dilton Marsh, who was airlifted by Wiltshire Air Ambulance in 2012 after suffering a life-threatening episode of fluid on the brain which required emergency surgery.

“I saw the helicopter flying above us a couple of times and gave it a wave. That actually spurred me on some more,” said Stuart, who is deputy head of PE at Melksham Oak School and a volunteer with Wiltshire Air Ambulance. 

“I took part in the Bath Half two years ago but that was during my rehabilitation and I found it really difficult. This time I’ve gone out and enjoyed it, raised lots of money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and it was great to see lots of others doing likewise for an amazing charity.”

Two members of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance aircrew completed the 13.1 mile route, pilot Rob Backus, 45, and paramedic Sophie Holt, 31. 

Rob narrowly missed his target time of one hour 20 minutes by a matter of seconds, but insisted: “It’s quicker than I thought I’d ever run and, most importantly, I’ve done it for Wiltshire Air Ambulance. It was an amazing atmosphere, with bands playing on every corner to a different beat. Everyone was cheering me on by name, amongst all the club runners, which made it extra special.”

Sophie added: “It was tough on the legs but I saw lots of people running for Wiltshire Air Ambulance; most of them overtook me! We’ve got to be very fit for our job and taking part in events like the Bath Half not only helps maintain that fitness but also boosts fundraising for the charity too.”

Kenresa Stratford, events co-ordinator at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “The atmosphere, as always, was amazing. We’re so proud of our runners and thank them for their hard work and dedication in training for the event and fundraising for our charity. We rely on donations to provide our essential Helicopter Emergency Medical Service in Wiltshire and surrounding counties. The funds raised by our team of runners – more than £9,000 so far – will enable us to continue saving lives.”

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