MOTORCYCLING: NW200 nominates Air Ambulance NI as charity for 2016-17

Motorcycle star William Dunlop was just one of the 84,000 people who signed the HEMS4NI petition in 2015
Motorcycle star William Dunlop was just one of the 84,000 people who signed the HEMS4NI petition in 2015

The North West 200 has announced the event’s nominated charity for 2016-17 will be the Air Ambulance NI charity.

The need for a local airborne ambulance service was highlighted at last year’s race when spectator Violet McAfee was airlifted to hospital in Belfast following a crash during Saturday’s Superstock race.

Violet’s experience led to a groundswell of support for the introduction of an air ambulance service to the Province, the only part of the UK that doesn’t enjoy such a facility.

MCUI Race Doctor John Hinds, who treated Violet before tragically losing his own life following a crash at Skerries in July, had been instrumental in boosting the campaign for the airborne service with his eloquent endorsements.

A petition – signed by 84,000 people – calling for a HEMS4NI service following John’s death in a campaign supported by his partner Janet Atcheson and the Hinds family.

As a result the Air Ambulance NI and HEMSNI campaigns have now been integrated and are set to come to fruition in 2016.

“There is a consultation currently ongoing into the need for an air ambulance service in Northern Ireland and we are extremely confident that by North West 200 race week in 2016 that service will be in place.” Ian Crowe, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Air Ambulance NI, said.

“Every race fan will be aware of the great work that the MCUI Medical team currently provide.”

NW200 Event Director, Mervyn Whyte, MBE, added: “To have an airborne ambulance service in support of the team will increase the speed and quality of the medical care they provide and we hope that everyone will support this fantastic cause during NW200 race week.”