Two people who were airlifted by Wiltshire Air Ambulance (WAA) have helped aviation enthusiast Sean Devine make a model helicopter which will help to raise money for the charity.
The model is identical to Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s Bell 429 helicopter, complete in the yellow and Wiltshire green livery, and even has pilot and paramedic figures inside. It is almost six foot long and weighs 8kg.
Sean, 50, of Upavon, has built remote controlled model aircraft for the last 16 years and when he heard of WAA’s brand new helicopter he decided to build a replica model.
He enlisted the help of former WAA patients Dave Grace, 50, of Market Lavington, who paint sprayed the colours and Gareth Steele, who runs Steele Signs in Durrington, and who undertook the writing on the model helicopter. Dave was one of the first patients airlifted by WAA after a road traffic collision near Marden in April 1990. Gareth, 39, was airlifted by WAA following a motocross accident at Everleigh on Salisbury Plain about 12 years ago.
Sean, a self-employed painter and decorator, is taking his model to display at events, such as talks and shows, and collect donations for WAA.
He said: “Wiltshire Air Ambulance is a fantastic service that needs to be supported. I think most people in Wiltshire knows someone who has been airlifted by the helicopter. I have taken the model helicopter to a couple of events and everyone who has seen it says it is amazing. I’ve built many model helicopters over the years but there’s something about this one that gives me goosebumps. I think the hardest part was the paint job. Dave has done an amazing job in spraying it. Thanks to everyone who supported me including Budd Boulton, of Pewsey, who supplied the model helicopter at cost price.”
Sean bought the model kit and Dave and Gareth did their work on it for free. When Sean received the kit the original colours were black and gold so he sanded it down and primed it.
Dave, a professional paint sprayer and panel beater, said: “It was a lengthy job and the scale of the model helicopter probably made it one of the trickiest jobs I have undertaken. I was more than happy to do it when Sean asked me.”
Gareth said: “It was really good to be involved. It’s nice to do a bit more than just put money in a collection pot and to be able to use my skill to good effort. I was surprised at how big the model is. It looks fantastic.”
For the majority of the time the model helicopter will be static at events but Sean hopes to fly it on occasions. He also plans to have a Facebook page where he will post the events it will be attending.
Rebecca de la Bedoyere, Fundraising Manager at WAA, said: “The model Bell 429 helicopter is astonishing in its attention to detail and is a stunning replica of our helicopter. The work done by Sean, Dave and Gareth at their own cost is very generous.
“We are truly grateful to Sean, Dave and Gareth. The people of Wiltshire often come up with innovative ways of raising money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and this is one great example.”
Find out how to help WAA at: www.wiltshireairambulance.co.uk