Hospitality & Tourism

Published: March 15, 2020 | Updated: March 15, 2020

Flying high: Air ambulance charities land giant £268,000 donation from Dorset family brewer

By Andrew Diprose, editor

Eight air ambulance charities – including Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance – are flying high after landing a bumper donation from Dorset brewer Hall & Woodhouse.

The independent family-owned company has raised £268,365 in the past two years.

At the beginning of 2018, team members at Hall & Woodhouse (H&W) voted to make the eight air ambulance charities their official charity partner until 2020.

Through the partnership, Devon Air Ambulance Trust, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, Hampshire and IOW Air Ambulance, Kent Surrey Sussex Air Ambulance, London’s Air Ambulance, Thames Valley Air Ambulance and Wiltshire Air Ambulance are all equal beneficiaries of the amount raised.

Over the past two years, 53 pubs in H&W’s managed house estate across the south, came together to raise as much money as possible through a variety of fundraising initiatives.

They included quiz nights, sponsored events, family fun days and challenge events.

H&W holds its annual Dorset Beer Festival in June, which sees members of the community enjoy beer, live music and locally-produced food at the Blandford Brewery.

Over the course of the two-year partnership this particular event, alone, raised £23,000.

In recognition of National Air Ambulance week, which takes place in September every year, more than 30 team members from 11 different H&W pubs bravely undertook an abseil descent of the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

Participants in the nerve-racking 170 metre descent included teams from The Lulworth Cove Inn, The Crown Hotel in Blandford and The Old Granary in Wareham.

All participating in the challenge helped to raise over £5,000 in the process.

Additionally, more than £25,500 was raised by 38 houses featuring a ‘charity dish’ on their pub menu over a 12-month period.

25p from the sale of each dish went towards the charity partnership when guests purchased ham, egg and chips.

Lucinda Gray, H&W’s Company Charity Champion, pictured right, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have raised such a tremendous amount for eight local air ambulance charities.

“We set ourselves the ambitious target of raising £250,000 over the two years, but with dedication, kindness and teamwork I am incredibly proud and humbled that our team have smashed this.

“Our houses and the team at the Brewery in Blandford have worked tremendously hard to stay on track of this target and we are grateful for their support.

“They have enabled us to give back to the local communities in which the air ambulance charities serve.

“Every penny we raise will allow them to continue saving lives, further enhance their operations, or purchase new items of specialist equipment which could help keep someone alive until they reach hospital.”

Speaking on behalf of the charities, Tracy Bartram, Communications Manager at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, said: “It is extremely rare for eight air ambulance charities to have an opportunity to be the beneficiaries of one ‘Charity of the Year’ initiative, which makes the H&W Charity Partnership extremely unique.

“The Hall & Woodhouse teams embraced our charities whole-heartedly and we have been overwhelmed by their generosity and grateful to the guests who have supported the partnership’s success.

“With the approximate cost of an air ambulance mission being £3,000, this means that in two years the partnership has potentially funded 90 life-saving missions.

“On behalf of the patients that needs us all, thank you – we are truly grateful.”