Patrick raises vital funds for Air Ambulance NI

Royal Victoria Hospital Porter, Patrick Walsh, recently organised a Slieve Donard Mountain Challenge, raising vital funds and awareness for Air Ambulance NI, which is based at the Maze.

Patrick presents Grace Williams, Area Fundraising Manager for Air Ambulance NI with his donation, surrounded by his colleagues from RVH who participated in the walking challenge
Patrick presents Grace Williams, Area Fundraising Manager for Air Ambulance NI with his donation, surrounded by his colleagues from RVH who participated in the walking challenge

Patrick explained: “The idea came about during lockdown. I thought to myself, having seen the vital work first hand carried out by the AANI team, I’m going to organise something to raise funds for them.”

Once restrictions eased Patrick encouraged his colleagues to join him on his challenge at the beginning of June.

“I had originally intended for 8-10 colleagues to join me on the walk but once word got out, that number swelled to more than 50,” continued Patrick. “It was great to get a day away in the fresh air of the Mournes and forget about work for a day.

“We had a brilliant day. We set off from the Bloody Bridge car park, on our way to the summit.

“The original plan was to all stick together but a few of the more competitive hikers were soon out of sight.

“As organiser I stayed until the last hiker reached the summit.

“I personally carried 18 burritos which I had made at home, to give out at the top but most people had started the descent, as it was pretty cold at the summit.

“The journey down was easier as there was a cold beer waiting on us. At the bottom we went to O’Hare’s bar in Newcastle (all within government guidelines) and sat in the beer garden for some well deserved refreshments.” Patrick encouraged his colleagues to each take a sponsorship form and ask their colleagues and families to sponsor their challenge.

To Patrick’s surprise, the team managed to raise an amazing £8,486.50 in support of Air Ambulance NI

“The donations we managed to raise, exceeded my expectations,” admitted Patrick. “It’s really unbelievable how generous the people are and now reflecting on the total raised I feel proud of how everyone who donated money and participated in the walk, has helped save lives.”

Grace Williams, Area Fundraising Manager for the Air Ambulance NI Charity, said: “We are so inspired by Patrick’s fundraising efforts and we are humbled he decided to support of wonderful work of Air Ambulance NI in this way.

“As a service we rely heavily on charitable donations to keep the medical team in the air, delivering critical care to patients who have suffered trauma throughout Northern Ireland- without this type of support, the team simply couldn’t fly. The past year has been especially challenging for fundraising and we’ve seen a dramatic downturn in our income.

“I want to take this opportunity to personally thank Patrick, his colleagues and everyone who supported them throughout this amazing challenge.

“Despite the current pandemic, our Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) is as busy as ever, responding to on average two calls daily somewhere in Northern Ireland.

“Since we first launched in July 2017, Air Ambulance NI have been tasked on more than 2,266 occasions.”

“The charity Air Ambulance NI, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, provides the HEMS for Northern Ireland. The HEMS team attend patients who are seriously ill or injured, bringing emergency pre-hospital care direct to the casualty with the aim of saving lives, brains and limbs. With a daily operational cost of £5,500, we sincerely thank Patrick for his amazing support.”

Air Ambulance NI has recently launched a range of events and other ways to support the charity including two abseils, Dragon Boat Racing and much more, all available to register for online at or for more information call the charity team on 028 9262 2677.