Race is on for Dorset teenager to raise £3.5k for air ambulance before school starts

Inspired by the emergency services rescue last May at Durdle Door, 14 year old Ben has been fundraising for the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance by spending the summer sleeping in an air raid shelter.

He’s nearly reached his £3.5k target but has to complete the challenge before school starts in two weeks time, when his mum, Shelley says he has to sleep in a proper bed!

When lockdown was eased in May 2020, Durdle Door beach had to be evacuated to allow the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and the coastguard rescue helicopter to land, so they could help several people with life threatening injuries, who’d jumped 60 metres off the arch into the sea.

People herded together on Durdle Door beach
Purbeck Police

Photo of people being herded together

The incident was reported by Swanage.News at the time and made national headlines. The photo of people being herded together during the coronavirus crisis was seen around the world and shocked many.

Teenager Ben, who lives in Bovington, decided to take positive action by getting sponsored to raise vital funds for the air ambulance that had helped save the lives of the young men that day. He said:

“At the beginning of lockdown we built an Anderson shelter in my back garden. It’s quite cool! The air ambulance was called out to my local beach to rescue individuals that had jumped from Durdle Door, injuring themselves badly.

“Two helicopters were needed on this day, both landing on the same beach. Each rescue costs £3,000, so I decided to try and raise some money for the charity. I’m sleeping in my Anderson shelter until I return to school in September.”

Ben inside his air raid shelter

“Really determined to raise as much money as he can”

Ben’s mother, Shelley said:

“Ben is really determined to raise as much money as he can. He’s really into military history and was getting quite bored during lockdown after school work was finished. A good friend of ours suggested that Ben should dig a World War One trench in the garden, but I really wasn’t keen on having a ditch, so we compromised on the Anderson shelter instead!”

The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, in common with the other air ambulances around the UK, isn’t government funded and with lockdown, all its usual fundraising activities had to stop. Everytime the helicopter takes off it roughly costs about £3,000 – just filling up the fuel tank costs £400.

Ben outside his air raid shelter with his dog

“Ben is one inspirational young man”

Tracy Bartram, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Communications Manager said:

“Ben is one inspirational young man. We were delighted to be able to arrange a Zoom call with our crew, where he had the opportunity to ask them questions and we had the opportunity to thank him in person for supporting us.

“He has done such an incredible job thus far and hasn’t got long to go now before he can feel the warmth and comfort of his own home and also return to school. Go Ben, you can do it! Thank you for everything you are doing to support Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance.”

Ben is hoping to raise the last few hundred pounds over the next two weeks but has admitted that his challenge hasn’t all been about fundraising. He added:

“I quite like it out there in the Anderson shelter, as I can get away from my older sister, as well as raising cash for a very good cause!”

To make a donation

To help Ben raise funds for Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, donations can be made via his fundraising site.

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