A RAFFLE with a £10,000 winner's prize has been launched by the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) to bridge a funding gap resulting from the coronavirus outbreak.

The GNAAS has seen donations slump over the past few months as a result of cancelled events and fundraising. Donations in June were at about a third of their usual level.

The charity is hoping its annual raffle will provide a much-needed boost to its income, at a time of the year when demand for its services are expected to be at their highest.

Over last weekend alone, GNAAS responded to 17 call-outs across the North-East, North Yorkshire and Cumbria.

GNAAS director of operations Andy Mawson said: “The downturn in donations is a big worry for us, as we rely on that money to survive. It’s that support which has enabled us to work throughout this crisis without losing one minute of flying time.

“We understand the pressures people are facing at home right now and that not everyone is able to help, but the public have backed us in the past and we hope that those who can help will do so now.

“By buying raffle tickets, you are not only directly supporting our front-line service, but you are also giving yourself a chance of winning a life-changing prize.”

The raffle typically raises more than £100,000 for the charity every year. After ticket sales were opened on Friday, more than 3,000 were sold through the charity’s website.

Glynis Taylor of GNAAS, who oversees the raffle, said: “The response has been brilliant to see. We just weren’t sure how it would be received so we are really pleased to get off to such a strong start.

“To anyone out there thinking ‘I never win’ - every year when we call the winner, they say something along the lines of ‘but I never win anything’. So you never know.

“The good thing about this is that you are giving yourself that chance, but you’re also contributing towards keeping our helicopters flying and saving lives throughout the region.”

Tickets are £1 each and are available through the charity’s website here