A VITAL first aid group is to widen its range of services following work to extend its headquarters.

A 1,200sq ft extension is being built at the Thirsk base of the North Yorkshire and Teesside St John Ambulance, the first aid service and training organisation.

The scheme, on the town's industrial park, will allow the group to extend the patient transfer work and other services it provides across the district.

The construction work on the £100,000 extension started in January and is due to be completed this summer.

The extension is the second phase of the £500,000 headquarters - which opened in 2000 - and will comprise two garages, a store room and first-floor offices.

St John Ambulance county executive director John Welsh said: "This extension was always part of our plan.

"By providing a new operational base for ambulances in the heart of our area, it will enable us to offer a wider range of patient transfer-services to the NHS and the care sector - such as when hospitals or care homes need to move patients elsewhere to create free beds.

"Without the extension, if we needed an ambulance in Northallerton, we would have to bring one up from Wetherby, so having a garage depot in Thirsk will be highly beneficial. The offices will be a base for staff who will manage and monitor this service, which will be an important development in our activities."

The extension is being built by Severfield-Reeve Projects - which also designed and built the original 4,800sq ft headquarters when the group combined its Cleveland and North Yorkshire areas to cover between Hartlepool and Selby.

Mr Welsh said: "The design-build process suited us well and we are pleased to be working with them again."

A spokesman for Severfield-Reeve said: "We're delighted to be working on this second phase with St John, which will enable the organisation to develop its services so significantly."