Community Champions

Entrepreneur becomes trustee of Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Written by Peter Davison.

James PhippsEntrepreneur James Phipps has become trustee of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust.

The charity is tasked with raising the £3.75 million a year needed to keep the air ambulance flying.

The air ambulance undertook more missions in Swindon than in any other place in Wiltshire last year.

The critical care team was called out 182 times - on average every two days - to respond to serious medical and trauma incidents, including cardiac arrests, road traffic collisions, strokes and sporting accidents.

For the first three months of this year the number of call-outs in the Swindon area was 57.

James has supported Wiltshire Air Ambulance for a number of years, most notably when he was chief executive of Excalibur Group, a communications and IT business based in Swindon.

Excalibur were one of the founding members of the charity’s business networking group The 100 Club, which was initially set up to support the fundraising for the new airbase at Semington, near Melksham.

James, who has lived in Swindon all his life and was brought up on a council estate, said: “I think there are businesses in Swindon which don’t appreciate the relevance of Wiltshire Air Ambulance because they are not aware of its phenomenal work.

“But as the call out figures show Swindon was the town that Wiltshire Air Ambulance went to the most last year when responding to serious medical emergencies.

"I’m excited at becoming a trustee for the charity and using my skills and experience to help it grow its base of supporters, including among businesses.”

Among the fundraising activities that James and colleagues at Excalibur did for the charity was to sleep out in the car park at their office in freezing temperatures.

He said: “It’s vital to support Wiltshire Air Ambulance because it saves lives. It’s one of those charities that is there for everyone, it doesn’t matter what your social background is, your ethnicity or religion.

"The paramedics are trained in critical care skills and they use specialist medical equipment and these are funded by donations.

“By making a donation, fundraising or supporting the charity in some way you can make the difference between life and death.

"As a business you can support Wiltshire Air Ambulance in one of their many initiatives, including through The 100 Club, becoming a charity partner or supporting its pilot emergency care training programme.”

James, who is married with two daughters, remains involved with Excalibur as executive chairman but spends most of his time involved in several charities in Swindon and Wiltshire. He also mentors businesses, mainly start-ups.

Trustees of Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust provide strategic leadership and give their time for free.

David Philpott, chief executive of Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “It has been my privilege to have known James for a number of years now, so I was delighted when he accepted our invitation to join the Wiltshire Air Ambulance board.

"James’ broad business knowledge and contacts in commerce will add to the vast array of expertise that we have on our trustee board.”