England

Thames Valley Air Ambulance opens upgraded base at RAF Benson

The Countess of Wessex
Image caption The Countess of Wessex was shown "Bob" the Thames Valley Air Ambulance helicopter

The Thames Valley Air Ambulance has officially opened its renovated air base at RAF Benson.

The Countess of Wessex visited the site to unveil a plaque and to meet staff, volunteers and former patients.

The charity, which serves Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, has new training rooms and upgraded accommodation.

Charity chairman Sir Tim Jenner said the upgrade was needed for when the crew starts night operations.

Bob the helicopter

He said: "The next two years pave an exciting path for our service and the new base provides the foundations for increasing the capacity of the air ambulance as we look to undertake night operations and the vital medical intervention it provides to the local community."

The countess was given a tour that included a visit to the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) training facility and an inspection of "Bob" the helicopter.

The service, which is entirely reliant on charitable donations, is celebrating its 15th birthday and will start night-flying operations this year.

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