by Julie Bettley
The ambulance is a Renault Crusader MPV (multi purpose vehicle) designed exclusively for St John Ambulance and converted by volunteers at ATT Papworth, Cambridge.
The vehicle cost £50,612.13 unequipped and to date we have spent £4,728.63 in new equipment.
Our appeal began in October 2001 when we held a launch evening at Thomas Peacocke with The Syd Lawrence Orchestra. Although this event did not raise a vast sum of money we certainly attracted media coverage and much needed publicity as Sir Paul McCartney donated the use of one of his own grand piano’s for the orchestra to use that evening.
Our appeal was highlighted when Mayor Peter Dyce selected us as his charity for the year. He gave much time to assisting us with local media coverage and spreading word of our campaign. Along with Colonel Anthony Kimber and his wife and Stuart and Judy Pope from the River Haven Hotel they pleaded and begged for lots for our extremely successful Auction evening. Much of the money raised was of course down to a very persuasive auctioneer! Rye Rugby Club lent us their grounds for a summer fair, Rye Dance Centre donated proceeds from a sell out performance at The White Rock. Phipps & Co chose us as their charity of the year and held a very successful golf day and quiz evening raising over £1,000. Almost every business in Rye has supported us over the campaign from donating large sums of money to items for the auction and raffle prizes. Cllr Paul Carey made us his Mayoral Charity when he took office – and again supported us throughout his year. Local Minister Derek Brice ran the Hastings half marathon on our behalf. Many people collected spare change in jam jars. The Rye Film Club held a charity evening for us. The local churches donated money from carol singing and St Mary’s donated over £700 from the flower festival. Staplecross Bonfire society and The Robin Hood bonfire society made donations from their events. Jimpers Book – what can be said about that! This was a totally unexpected boost to our appeal when we were beginning to feel down about the price keeping going up. This not only captured the publics imagination but raised over £2,000. It was also a pleasure to spend time at book signings with Jimper and hear all his tales! The Wheelers gave up a whole day to raising funds and highlighting our campaign – and what a fun day that was for us but very tiring for them. The Rye Lions and the Rotary Club also made substantial donations.
The Sussex Masonic Lodge’s “Sussex 4 Sussex” donation came as a fitting closure to our appeal. Totally unexpected and far beyond our wildest dreams. It was an honour to go to Brighton to receive the cheque from their Provincial Grand Master.
It is really difficult to list donors as I would feel terrible not to have mentioned someone, (if I listed them all it would take up all of this months issue) as every penny counted and we were truly grateful for all the support we received.
Neville, Tony Pape and I travelled to Cambridge on Saturday 19 March to collect the new ambulance. I can’t describe the feeling as we walked into the workshops to be confronted by a gleaming new vehicle with the three letters simply stating RYE. After thousands of hours campaigning and fund raising the reality was there in front of us with just 4 miles on the clock. To say I shook as I signed the paperwork and drove out of the work shop was an understatement. The realisation of what has been achieved by the local community on our behalf takes some coming to terms with and I still check in the garage everytime I come to Rye.
The support given by yourselves through the pages of Rye’s Own has been fantastic. Not just in keeping our appeal in the public’s eye but also to read such positive comments about Rye St John has been a tremendous morale boost to us all. I am not sure how we can ever thank the people of Rye for their continued support. This vehicle has been bought by Rye to serve Rye – and it will.
The new vehicle has an automatic tail ramp, Air conditioning for patient comfort, winch to assist with stretcher loading, airport lights, and the latest Hi Tec equipment including complete body mattress, vacuum splints, automatic blood pressure/blood oxygen monitor. 99% of the equipment on our vehicle is brand new and the most up to date available. Rye’s vehicle is the newest, most advanced vehicle in the St John Sussex fleet (possibly the whole country) and has been requested to promote the work of Sussex St John at the South of England Show in June.
We are holding an Open Day/Coffee Morning on Saturday 21 May from 10 – 12 at our HQ for anyone who would like to come and have a look at our new ambulance. Then on Sunday 29 May we will be holding the official dedication ceremony.
Rye’s Own May 2005
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