Ireland Air Ambulance

Ireland Air Ambulance (Ltd) ceases trading

Posted in Uncategorized by bproject on January 5, 2011

The company Ireland Air Ambulance is to cease trading immediately with the intent to wind up all operations without any further liabilities.

The company, whose directors were eight Northern Ireland business and community representatives, was established to take over in 2010, the aims of a chartable association carrying the same name.  The previous association had been in place for more than three years raising funds to establish a helicopter emergency medical service, however its activities had come under intense scrutiny of the BBC in 2009, with various on-going comments in other printed and on-line media.

The new company’s objective was to stabilise the position and form an organisation to take the same ambition forward.  All the previous trustees and senior employees stood down.  The new company appointed auditors and with the necessary professional advice, spent 2010 re-establishing the charity infrastructure, and communicating with relevant stakeholders. However it has recognized that without the support of key stakeholders, and with continued media and public speculation about the activities of the previous association, and in the best interests of the ongoing project, there should be no further activity by the company.

At the same time the company welcomes the Northern Ireland Heath and Social Care (HSC) board’s decision to commission a study to examine the provision of an emergency helicopter service and believes that such a service needs to be established by a charitable clinical service provider that can gain full stakeholder and public confidence plus financial support.

Bill Megraw, Interim Chief Executive said: “The new board and a small number of paid employees have worked tirelessly to turn around the situation, however have accepted that they are no longer in a position to do so at this time.

“Our main aim is to ensure that the charity is wound up without any debts and to further ensure that when the HSC report is produced it will enable the project to move forward, as the main issue is that the people of Northern Ireland are not able to access such an emergency service unlike citizens in other neighboring countries.


Ireland Air Ambulance (IAA – company number NI074051) is an incorporated company limited by guarantee that commenced operations in April 2010, governed by eight board members also acting as trustees.  The trustees are non-executive and not remunerated for undertaking that role.  IAA is recognised as a charity by the HM Revenue and Customs registration number XR98095.

The company replaced an association, Ireland Air Ambulance (IAA) also previously known by the name Alpha 5 which determined to cease trading under a legal process of dissolution with the three existing trustees standing down.

The board of directors of IAA (Ltd) secured independent accounting and legal advice and specialist business support and has taken into consideration all professional advice in reaching its decision.

For additional information contact –

The Directors – Ireland Air Ambulance (Ltd), c/o Bill Megraw

c/o Townsend Enterprise ParkŸ Townsend Street Ÿ Belfast Ÿ BT13 2ES

Tel 07950 773046


Company Registration No: NI074051


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Ireland Air Ambulance – was it ever a scam?

Posted in Uncategorized by bproject on August 13, 2010

  1. Was it ever a scam?
    No – the plan was always to raise money, get the fundraising and administrative infrastructure in place, and then launch the service

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  2. Who suggested that it was?
    The initial story was run by BBC NI – basically they suggested that the Charity was one of the fastest growing in Northern Ireland, and highlighted the fact that a sum of money had been raised, but no helicopter had yet appeared
  3. If that suggestion was wrong, why was it not challenged?
    The people involved in the organisation at the time would argue that the nature of the BBC report was never properly explained, nor was an opportunity given to present the facts – it was very poor “sensationalist” journalism with no attempt to properly investigate, or accurately portray the organisation’s plans – of course the counter argument would be that the organisation couldn’t defend itself because what the BBC were alleging was actually true. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
  4. So the organisation couldn’t defend itself?
    Essentially no – once the BBC report had been run, there was very little the organisation could do, apart from spend ridiculous amounts of charitable funds (which WOULD have been very questionable) on professional PR to try to counter some or all of the claims made, by telling the truth and answering questions accurately.
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  6. So the original organisation did nothing wrong?
    No – I didn’t say that (and hindsight is of course a wonderful thing…) – the old organisation should have defended itself better, and should definitely have been more open with the BBC in explaining their plans, the stage they were at, and how they foresaw the future – that of course assumes that the BBC would have engaged constructively, and were not simply in a destructive mode. Naturally the presumption is that as a public service and responsible broadcaster, they would have co-operated in fully investigating and establishing the truth, not simply engaged in sensationalist headline-seeking.
  7. What does this “original organisation” mean?
    Sorry – I should have explained that. One of the quite correct observations around the time of the initial BBC reports was that there was a weakness in the structure of the old organisation. Most UK charities are companies, limited by guarantee, but many start up exactly as the old organisation did – as a “good idea”. Trustees are often then recruited as much for their willingness to become involved – not for their professional skills or backgrounds. That was what happened with IAA – the original Trustees were there because they genuinely believed in (and in many cases VOLUNTARILY worked for) the cause – no payments were thought of or given. BUT long before the BBC report, it was realised that running a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service is a significant business – it needs professional direction, and when a charity like this, requires a widely experienced Board of Trustees, and where, as in most sizeable UK charities, it is also a Company Limited by Guarantee, these Trustees are also Directors of the Company.
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  9. So everything is OK now then?
    Well – if you mean in respect of structure and governance – yes – the Company is registered and the Board appointed – full details are on our web pages. If you mean, have we recovered from the BBC attack, the answer is “no”. People still Google us and find the reports – indeed, even this year when we announced that the structural changes were now in place and the old Trustees and senior staff had fully withdrawn, the BBC chose to headline this as “Air Ambulance grounded” – no attempt to state the accurate picture – that we had totally put our house in order, and that the Company was taking the concept forward, for which there is tremendous support “out there” – again, totally unnecessary NEGATIVE reporting, when what really should have been asked is “would an Air Ambulance make sense in Northern Ireland / is it something which the people want”. Undoubtedly the answer to both of those questions is “YES” – that’s why it was the fastest growing charity in Northern Ireland according to the initial BBC attack.
  10. What about the initial report – what about this £700k+ which was reportedly raised?
    Ok – let’s tackle that one – yes, it was accurate, but this never was a capital project. It was NEVER about “let’s raise £x and buy a helicopter” – that’s simply not the way things work. The organisation started in 2006, and in the period to 31st March 2008 raised £194k. It became more successful throughout 2008/9 and raised another £478k in the year to 31st March 2009 – the initial BBC attack came shortly after the end of the 1st quarter of 2009/10 (i.e. early summer 2009). The problem is – this was (and is) about raising a sustainable £1.5m EVERY YEAR to keep an Air Ambulance flying, and to be fair, the old organisation weren’t that far off – other income streams would have been developed and nurtured had the BBC not attacked, and the organisation could have got to that £1.5m pa target with some changes in emphasis and perhaps some changes in resources (staff, etc).
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  12. Would they have got there?
    The honest answer is – we’ll never know – but the initial BBC report and the various supplementary attacks and comments have severely curtailed fundraising income. Of course the attackers would say “and so it should”, but what they don’t seem to realise is that they have severely damaged a concept which the people of Northern Ireland seem to believe passionately in, and want to happen – that is why we (the Company) are continuing to push forward.
  13. Will you get there?
    Again, the honest answer is – I really don’t know. What I DO know is it won’t be for the want of trying if we don’t – the current Board of IAA are a sincere, experienced group who are not being paid ANYTHING and yet passionately believe in the concept. The very small number of paid staff we have are equally sincere in wanting to make this happen – yes of course we’re being paid, but it is impossible to run any significant charitable enterprise on volunteer power alone – charities are businesses whether we like it or not – and in the case of one like ourselves who are seeking to provide a professional medical service, we absolutely need to be – our statutory sector colleagues need to work with competent and well managed organisations, who have the capacity, credibility and capability to deliver.
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  15. What is the current attitude of the statutory sector?
    Well – as you probably know, last year, senior sources were quoted as “not seeing a need for an Air Ambulance”. We hope we’ve moved on slightly from that, and indeed, the Government have recently published the fact that they are talking to a number of organisations (ourselves included) who believe that we can operate such a service here – I think all are modelled along the lines of those already operating in England and Wales. Of course we don’t yet know whether our colleagues in the statutory sector will choose to work with us to establish such a service, but we very much hope that will be the outcome (and sooner rather than later…). Health Service budgets are tremendously under pressure (as indeed are Charities) but if we can succeed in raising £1.5m per annum, and delivering this “free” service for the people of Northern Ireland, we will have achieved something.
  16. If the Government say “yes” – can you get a helicopter?
    I can’t really go very deeply into this one for reasons of commercial confidentiality. Suffice to say that the old organisation had sourced a helicopter, and were basically caught in the rather messy situation of not having backing from the statutory sector to make it happen.
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  18. So all you need is backing from the Government?
    No – it’s a bit more complicated than that – even if there is a “yes” or even a “maybe” tomorrow, there is a considerable amount of work to be done. All of clinical governance and aviation procedures need to put in place, as well as the tasking arrangements for the service. Obviously in the case of the English and Welsh charities that we seek to pick up best practice from, you don’t ring 999 for a land ambulance and 998 for an air ambulance – the tasking is done from within ambulance control, based on their expertise of where an air ambulance capability is best deployed – all of that has to be put in place.
  19. So what is the time scale?
    I honestly can’t say – it depends on how quickly the statutory sector are prepared to work with us to get all of the processes in place. We’re ready, and an aircraft is fairly readily available – all it needs is for us to raise the tempo and scale of our fundraising – once a “go” level is achieved, bring the helicopter in and start the service, but don’t underestimate all of the compliance and protocol matters outlined earlier – they will take time.
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  21. So where did the money go that was previously raised?
    As outlined earlier, in the period to 31/3/08 they raised £194k and expenditure was £175k. For the year to 31/3/09 they raised £478k and spent £409k. Both of those periods were audited. In relation to the final period (of the old organisation) from 1st April 2009 to date (cessation) they raised £372k and spent £427k (£317k salaries & expenses, £34k office costs, £8k coin handling costs, £67k other overheads). The cessation accounts have NOT been audited, but the books are open to the Board of Directors of the new Company, should they wish to have an independent examination carried out.

Statement by Ireland Air Ambulance (the company)

Posted in Uncategorized by bproject on April 14, 2010

Ireland Air Ambulance

Tuesday 13th April 2010

Business and community leaders to direct Northern Ireland air ambulance charity

A new company has been formed with the ambition to operate a helicopter emergency medical service in Northern Ireland.  The company, Ireland Air Ambulance has recruited a board of directors with considerable business experience and cross community representation.

At the same time the association, Ireland Air Ambulance will cease operations transferring its assets to the new company.

The company aims to establish a world-class clinical service organisation to provide emergency and trauma care complimentary to existing ambulance services and in line with Northern Ireland’s health commissioning plans.  The board is conducting a series of engagements with key stakeholders to ensure that the feasibility of such a service is fully explored and that there is a strong business case and the public support to generate the sums of money that will be required to operate such a service on a sustainable basis.

The board is appointing an auditor to ensure that the assets and liabilities of the previous association are fully understood.  The board is made up of people from Ireland, all highly respected in their communities and in the field of business.  They believe they have the capability and capacity to deliver this project.

Roy Orr, a Northern Ireland business owner, who has helped put the board together said: “our board is fully committed to exploring the feasibility to put an emergency helicopter into service.

“The board is representative of the community and has considerable business expertise that demonstrates to our stakeholders and public that we have the credibility to deliver what is a sizeable business undertaking that will need to attract significant support and monies.

“The project is all about improving health care in the fields of emergency and trauma medicine and we need the public to get behind us and support what we are doing.”

The company is proposing to undertake a feasibility exercise to determine an evidence base for a helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) in the north of Ireland and to ensure that such a service is congruent with commissioning plans and priorities such as the modernisation programme, secondary care targets, health efficacy and expenditure challenges.

The company will also set out a proposed charitable governance structure. It will develop the clinical model including standards, performance measures, standard operating procedures, risk management and detailed aspects such as resourcing, dispatch and overall clinical governance.

It will establish the operational aspects such as landing infrastructure and consider the level of public support and ability to source the funding for such a service through charitable giving.

The charity is relying on continued public support and will communicate more details of its plans in the near future.


THIS STATEMENT IS AUTHORISED UNDER THE COLLECTIVE AUTHORITY OF THE IAA BOARD.  All enquiries to their appointed agent and professional adviser Nick Taylor 07846 428580 who is also authorised and available to conduct broadcast interviews.

Notes in support of the statement

The association, Ireland Air Ambulance (IAA) previously known by the name Alpha 5 will cease trading under a legal process of dissolution and the three existing trustees will stand down.  Ireland Air Ambulance (company number NI074051) is an incorporated company limited by guarantee with eight board members also acting as trustees.  The trustees are non-executives and not remunerated for undertaking that role.  IAA is recognised as a charity by the HM Revenue and Customs registration number XR98095.  The legal instruments to make this change are being enacted and due formalities are in the process of being completed.

The board of directors of IAA is appointing an independent auditor, securing legal advice and specialist business and clinical advisory support to undertake this process.  An introduction to the board of directors and their advisers is set out below.

Jerry Carr, co-founder and director of IAA is to stand down and will no longer be an employee.  The three existing association trustees stand down.  The new company will be appointing a small number of employees to take the work forward.  However, a number of other employees will be leaving as a result of this change.

Ireland Air Ambulance – Directors

Trevor Tate is a retired business-man who was a director of Calor Gas and the Chairman of C&C Group plc a leading manufacturer, marketer and distributor of beer, cider and spirits brands in the Scottish, Irish and wider international markets.

John Hutchinson is the co-owner of Medilink Services who are a highly successful healthcare services company, that supply and service all types of medical equipment; from basic first-aid items to the most up to date innovative and advanced products in the fields of diagnostics, electrocardiography and patient monitoring equipment.

Liam Creagh is a broadcaster and the owner of Red Box Media a company that makes features and documentaries and provides news and current affairs cover for local and international outlets

Peter Fearon works in construction and is the Chairman of Dromentee St Patricks GAA in South Armagh.  Peter and Helen Fearon have worked to raise a significant sum of money to support the air ambulance following the death of their son Gerald in a road accident and in their desire to ensure that other families that experience severe trauma are able to access a helicopter emergency medical service.

Aidan Rice is a financial adviser and one of the people who worked with Peter and Helen Fearon to raise money to establish an air ambulance.

Roy Orr is the owner of Successful Security Ltd a company that specialises in retail fraud security.  Roy has interests in helicopter aviation and has long supported the need for air ambulance.  He has led the work to create the company and form the board in his determination to see an air ambulance become a reality.

Michael Montogomery Michael Montgomery is active in the community and within the local motorbike charity fundraising scene. He has been a long-­-time supporter and fund-­raiser for the air ambulance.

Mal McGreevy is Translink NI Railway’s General Manager of Rail Services and has played a central role in the renaissance of NI Railways, including the introduction of a new train fleet and a major culture change programme.  Mal is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and a fellow of the Institute of Railway Operations. He had an early career in the aerospace, tobacco and paper industries.

External advisers and secretariat (non directors)

Bill Megraw is the company secretary.  He is an experienced charity trustee having served on the board of the Alzheimer’s Society.  Bill is a qualified Chartered Secretary and Law graduate, with over thirty years’ experience in various NI industrial, commercial and public sector accounting / company secretarial posts.

Nick Taylor is the owner of Bodyproject Ltd a company that helps organisations manage their reputation.  He is highly experienced in the third sector and at present a director of three charities including the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace, Chairman the Citadel Arts Centre and Chairman of the North West Air Ambulance.  Nick acts as a consultant adviser to the board during the formation of the company

Lowry Grant (J L Grant) is the company’s auditor and operates one of the largest independent firms of Chartered Certified Accountancy firms in Northern Ireland that offer a wide range of services to the small to medium sized businesses, having particular expertise in the voluntary sector.

Statement by Ireland Air Ambulance (the association)

Posted in Uncategorized by bproject on April 14, 2010

Statement to all staff, creditors and supporters of Ireland Air Ambulance

Ireland Air Ambulance (the Association) announces that it is to dissolve with immediate effect.

All staff employment will cease without notice on Tuesday 13th April, and other costs such as premises, utilities and other contracts will be ceased as soon as practicable.

It is hoped that Ireland Air Ambulance (the Company) – registered in Northern Ireland, number NI074051 – will take the dream of a Helicopter Emergency Medical Service forward from this point onwards.

The Trustees would like to thank all staff, supporters and suppliers for their faith in the project – of particular note is Jerry Carr, a co-founder of the Charity, who is moving on to pursue other interests. The Trustees sincerely wish the Company well in their endeavours to make their dream a reality, and both they and Jerry remain convinced of the value of this project to both the statutory stakeholders, and the ordinary people, who so generously supported the cause.

In line with the Association’s constitution, all assets from the Association on dissolution will be handed over to the Company to take the work forward.

Revenue collected from this point onwards will be unconditionally gifted to the Company to continue the project.

We sincerely thank our loyal and dedicated members of staff who have tried under Jerry’s leadership to keep the HEMS concept successfully in the public eye, but without further support at this stage, the Trustees simply cannot continue.

It is hoped that with courageous leadership from the directors of the Company, real and meaningful progress can be made without undue delay.

Further communication from the Company will be issued in due course, but the Trustees can confirm that it is their intention to fully satisfy all liabilities of the Association, prior to full dissolution as soon as possible.

Further information can be obtained from our adviser – Nick Taylor at Bodyproject Ltd –

Trustees voting in favour of a resolution to dissolve the Association:

Dierdre Blyberg

Carol Retreage

Donna Carr

Date: 8th April 2010.

Embargo until 13th April 2010.