Northern Irish MotoGP racer Eugene Laverty will lend support to the province’s fledgling air ambulance charity this weekend in Jerez, running their logo on his leathers as part of the campaign to get the helicopter off the ground.
Initiated as part of the legacy of Irish racing medic Doctor John Hinds, who was killed last year in a crash at the Skerries 100 road race, the air ambulance is now expected to be up and running in the coming weeks after an injection of cash from the UK government.
But, with considerable charity backing also needed to keep it aloft, Laverty is taking the opportunity to help raise awareness at MotoGP’s first European round.
"We're moving ever closer to having an air ambulance in Northern Ireland and the project has really gathered momentum this year. It's important to keep it fresh in everyone's mind in order to achieve Doctor John Hinds' goal of bringing an air ambulance to Northern Ireland. So many people are working hard back home to make this vision a reality and I'm proud to have the opportunity to help out.
"Last year my sponsor Shoei was incredibly helpful in producing a replica of John Hinds' helmet for me to use at the German Grand Prix. I'm very fortunate to have great sponsors in both Shoei and Alpinestars who have added the "Air Ambulance NI" logo to my race suits in preparation for the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez this weekend."
Laverty will also be attending this year’s North West 200 as a spectator, where they are hoping to have the air ambulance up and running in time for the famous Irish road race, with event director Mervyn White saying that hopefully the race will also be an important opportunity to raise much-needed funds for the charity.
"Over the past two years, we’ve had a requirement to bring in an air ambulance from various places to the event, after having a couple of serious incidents.
"This year, we’re really hoping that we’ll have the ambulance on hand, so that if we do have a serious incident we can fly people straight to the hospitals in Belfast – something that we’ve been pushing for a number of years, because it’s crucial that we can get people there as quickly as possible.
"There are some fine details to be sorted yet with landing positions, but we’re hopeful that during the race itself it’ll be positioned around the start area so that we can raise some funds for them.”
To donate to the campaign, click here.