Air Ambulance staff covering Dorset, Somerset, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight have said a big thank you to some of the South’s best-known football stars for helping to kick-off a major new fund-raising initiative.
Footballers from AFC Bournemouth, Southampton FC, and Yeovil Town on Monday helped to launch the ‘Save Old Soles’ footwear recycling scheme.
They donated pairs of old football boots and other footwear to the project, and already the Air Ambulances have been flooded with calls from groups and individuals who want to join up and help raise funds.
‘Save Old Soles’ is being run jointly by the Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance (DSAA) and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance (HIOWAA).
It was created by the Air Ambulances’ recycling partner Bag It Up Ltd, which takes used shoes and other footwear and converts them into cash by trading them in Africa, Asia, and other parts of the world.
The campaign follows the success of Bag a Bra, another recycling initiative, in which women donate their unwanted bras.
DSAA communications manager Tracy Bartram said: “Save Old Soles is a really simple and easy way for everybody to help their local Air Ambulance.
“We all need to replace shoes or other footwear at some time or other and all people have to do is pop their old pairs into a recycling bag and give them to their Air Ambulance.”
Pupils and parents from St James C of E Primary School, Bournemouth, became the first to join ‘Save Old Soles’ when they collected 100 pairs of footwear and took them along to Monday’s launch event.
HIOWAA administration manager Sherie Williams Ellen said: “If everybody across the area gave just one pair of their unwanted footwear to the appeal, then together we could raise something like £350,000.
“If a sporting club, school or local business joins the campaign and collects over 20 bags, we can arrange a collection. Smaller quantities can be placed directly into their local Air Ambulance yellow textile recycling banks located across the respective counties.”
All people have to do to join ‘Save Old Soles’ is to give their name and contact details by emailing the DSAA at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01823 669604, or emailing HIOWAA at enquiries @.hiow-airambulance.org.uk or calling 02380 333 377.
They will be sent blue shoe recycling bags if they live in Dorset or Somerset and green bags if they live in Hampshire or the Isle of Wight.
The Air Ambulances also have posters and other publicity material available for people to use to promote ‘Save Old Soles’.
AFC Bournemouth commercial director Rob Mitchell said: “The Air Ambulance crews do a wonderful job and you never know when it may be you who needs their help.”
Southampton FC spokesman Jordan Sibley said: “I am sure many people will be really surprised to find out that Air Ambulances are entirely dependent on help like the players gave on Monday because, despite the vital work that they conduct, they do not receive any direct Government or National Lottery funding.”
Adrian Hopper, head of media for Yeovil Town said: “Having had one of our players flown to hospital by the Air Ambulance after a serious car crash, we are only too aware of what a brilliant Charity they are, and we are delighted that we could help with this fund-raising appeal.”
Since its launch 10 years ago, the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has attended more than 7,600 emergencies, while the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has flown nearly 2,700 missions in three-and-a-half-years.
More information about the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance can be found by visiting www.dsairambulance.org.uk or by emailing email@example.com or calling 01823 669604, while more information about Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance is available by visiting www.hiow-airambulance.org.uk or emailing enquiries @.hiow-airambulance.org.uk or calling 02380 333 377.
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