A LIFE-SAVING service is now flying high in Bradford - literally.

The speed at which a helicopter can travel, avoiding the delays on our daily commuter journeys, is essential when transporting poorly children from one hospital to another.

Two years ago The Children's Air Ambulance took to the skies. This dedicated air transfer service for critically ill children and babies

can assist in moving youngsters needing urgent and lifesaving medical care to the place of expertise.

Understood to be the first of its kind, the service is also believed to be the only dedicated helicopter emergency transfer service for seriously ill children and babies, flying them from one hospital to a more specialist unit alongside their team of clinicians - a journey usually made by land.

It is estimated around 5,800 children need transferring between hospitals every year, the majority are currently transported by land resulting in long and arduous journeys for seriously ill youngsters.

The Children's Air Ambulance can drastically cut the time it takes to carry out the transfers, resulting in sick children and babies getting life saving care as soon as possible and giving them the best chances of survival and recovery.

Now, with a little help from a Bradford firm, the charity is developing its essential service with a landing site in Bradford.

There are only 11 dedicated childrens hospitals in the UK which are supplemented by special units such as Bradford Neo Natal and Leeds Heart Unit.

The charity's partnership with fashion firm, FGH Holdings (Freeman, Grattan Holdings), was formed when the charity approached the company to see whether or not it could make use of its helipad close to its Thornton Road warehouse, to access Bradford Royal Infirmary as and when a situation to transfer a young patient may arise.

A spokesman for FGH explains the helipad had been in existence for many years but hadn't been used for a long time until the charity approached FGH to see if they could use it.

A spokesman for the Children's Air Ambulance explains they were seeking a landing place close to Bradford Royal Infirmary and approached the company to see if they could make use of the helipad.

The helicopter can travel up to 200mph which means it can get from Bradford to London in an hour.

"That is incredibly quick," says the spokesman.

Instances where young people may need to be moved swiftly is if they require specific medical equipment or surgery. Some patients with a chronic condition may be transferred for pre-planned surgery.

"The helicopter is a lot smoother and less stressful," says the spokesman.

The ability to transfer patients and medical teams swiftly also means staff can return to their stations and hospital bed are freed up sooner.

But maintaining the service can be costly. The charity needs around £1.6m a year to survive - each trip can cost £15 per mile.

Inspired by the charity's work, staff from FGH decided not only to allow the charity to use the helipad, they also adopted the charity as their chosen charity for the year and raised a staggering £21,946.75 to ensure the service stays in the sky.

"We decided as this was such a worthy cause we would continue to support them as our nominated company charity for the next 12 months," says a spokesman for FGH.

"FGH employees have really embraced our efforts to fundraise and activities have included a Christmas Market, home baked cake stalls, name the Royal baby competition, a fantasy football league, raffles and tombola’s with fantastic prizes such as iPads, cameras, phones and fashion items kindly donated by FGH. We have received very generous financial donations from the Tony Rampton Trust who have also funded the landing lights at the helipad."

"In total we have raised a staggering £21,946.75 and would like to thank all our employees for their amazing support and generosity."

According to the charity, the money will fund 35 hours of flying. "And Bradford to London is one hour - that is 35 trips to London which they have funded and that is a phenomenal amount."

"That is 35 lives saved or changed," says the charity spokesman.

Simon Kirk, Head of Resilience and Operations at Bradford Teaching Hospitals, said: “The ability to move unwell children and babies by air ambulance and land close to the Bradford Royal Infirmary site will allow quicker treatment and improve overall patient care.

“We are grateful to both Freeman Grattan Holdings and the Children’s Air Ambulance for providing this important capability to Bradford Teaching Hospitals.”

For more information about The Childrens Air Ambulance visit theairambulanceservice.org.uk.