AN AIR ambulance service is appealing to the public to take part in its new virtual fundraising event.

Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) will host The ‘Race to the Base’ challenge, which will see fundraisers either walk, jog, run or ride, the distance GNAAS’ critical care team fly when returning to the air base from the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) in Newcastle.

Participants can choose to take on the 32-mile challenge from the RVI back to GNAAS’ air base at Teesside International Airport, or the 42 miles from the RVI to their Cumbria base in Langwathby, Penrith.

The challenges, which are designed to be accessible to everyone, can be completed by doing any physical activity and in any time frame, with the event remaining open until the end of this year.

Paula Moore, event fundraising assistant at GNAAS said: “Race to the Base is an inclusive event that can be mended, adapted and planned to cater for individual needs. The event allows everyone to participate as equals but offers flexibility for individual preference.”

“For the seasoned athletes in the North, if the two options are too easy, the fundraiser can decide to take on a longer distance with the reality concept of beating the air ambulance helicopter back to the base.

By taking on this challenge, fundraisers will ensure that GNAAS can continue to cover the distance and save lives across the region.”

Ms Moore said she hoped as many people as possible signed up to the challenge, as the GNAAS needed all the support it can get to bridge the gap in funds caused by Covid-19 - and fundraising events that were able to take place during the pandemic.

“GNAAS is continuing to fly through the COVID-19 crisis but we are asking the public to continue its support in the face of the collapse of its community fundraising activities,” said Ms More.

The event, which is sponsorship based has no joining fee and fundraisers can simply fill out a form on the GNAAS website to take part.

Jamie Walsh, paramedic and training manager at GNAAS said: “During this uncertain time it’s so important to stay healthy and active. The Race to the Base challenge is an opportunity to do both and for a great cause.

“This fundraising event will help to ensure our service carries on and is available to help those in need.”