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IRISH COMMUNITY AIR AMBULANCE GOES INTERNATIONAL WITH CAMINO FUNDRAISER

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The first overseas event for the Irish Community Air Ambulance is set to exceed its fundraising goal. A group of 48 supporters has arrived in Portugal to bike and hike the Camino into Santiago de Compostela in Spain. 

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) is Ireland’s only charity Air Ambulance and works in partnership with the National Ambulance Service. The helicopter is based in Rathcool, Co Cork with critical care teams on the ground in Dublin, Mayo and Donegal. 

The organisation set a fundraising target of €50,000 for the week-long event which has already been surpassed. Participants from Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Limerick, Mayo, Galway, Dublin, Wicklow and Tyrone will be taking on a 130km walk or 338km cycle along the Portuguese Coastal Route. 

George Blackshields from Cork City has opted for the cycle and has raised almost €6,000 so far. He has first-hand experience of the charity, he said, “We were on holiday in Kerry in June 2020, spending the day at the beach with family when my wife collapsed. There was a huge emergency response. It was a relief to hear from the ambulance paramedics that the helicopter was on its way, I knew that it would be important to get Jean to hospital quickly. The crew did everything they possibly could to bring Jean back but sadly it didn’t work out for her. We really appreciate the efforts they took. The Irish Community Air Ambulance is badly needed, it’s an essential service especially in rural parts of the country. I cycle regularly and the Camino is another adventure for me and I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated over the last few months.”

CEO of the Irish Community Air Ambulance, Micheál Sheridan says, “We’re lucky to have such dedicated supporters right across the country. They have put huge effort into training and fundraising ahead of the Camino, hosting coffee mornings, a dip in the nip, firefighter car wash, cycles and signed jersey raffles. They have done exceptionally well, especially in the current climate when fundraising is challenging. Local businesses and entire communities have also come on board to support them and we are very thankful. Their generosity ensures that we can bring hope to people when they need it most, whether that’s responding with our HEMS Air Ambulance or our team of volunteer Critical Care Doctors across the country.” 

The walking group begins in Oia today (Monday) and will walk 130km to Santiago de Compostela along the coast around the Vigo estuary. Walkers are staying in the beautiful coastal cities of Baiona and Vigo before rejoining the traditional Camino Portuguese from Redondela to Santiago de Compostela. 

The cycling group begin their 338km route from Aveiro in Portugal, following the road less travelled to Santiago de Compostela. They will cycle along some of the most amazing sandy beaches of North Portugal and Spain, such as those near Povoa de Varzim. 

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