Cornwall Air Ambulance has surpassed its fundraising target for a new air ambulance helicopter ahead of schedule.

The lifesaving charity has topped the £2.5 million target, with two months of the appeal still to go.

The New Heli Appeal, a two-year fundraising campaign to help purchase a next generation helicopter, was launched in April 2018.

Since then, donations have flooded in with supporters taking part in challenges, holding events and much more to fundraise for the charity.

Barbara Sharples, trustee and appeal board chair, said: “The New Heli Appeal has been a tremendous journey for everyone who cherishes Cornwall Air Ambulance and we have been overwhelmed by the support received from the public. A combination of hard work, dedication and incredible teamwork has meant we have surpassed our target before the end of the fundraising appeal.

“We all feel truly humbled by the fantastic efforts of supporters, whether they live in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly or further afield. Every single person, business, community group and trust fund who has contributed receives our heartfelt thanks.

“We know lots of people are still raising money for the appeal and our message to them is to please keep going. All the money raised will go towards the cost of bringing the new helicopter home to Cornwall and making sure the crew are fully trained ready for the first mission in April. It is very exciting to think of what the final total will be.”

The AW169 helicopter is currently in Gloucestershire, where a new medical interior is being fitted. It is scheduled to arrive in Cornwall at the end of February, when the pilots, critical care paramedics and doctors will commence training on the new aircraft.

Paula Martin, Chief Executive of Cornwall Air Ambulance, said: “We are delighted to say that we will be the proud owners of a helicopter- that is a first for this charity.

“In just a few weeks’ time the helicopter will be flying around right here in Cornwall. It is a fantastic aircraft, full of new technology, but it is what that helicopter will allow our clinical team to do that really counts- and that is saving more lives in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Thank you to everyone who is enabling our crew to have the equipment they need to truly exploit their lifesaving skills.

“When that helicopter flies on its first lifesaving mission, everyone can feel extremely proud that they played a part in making it happen.”

From March, supporters will have the opportunity to see the new air ambulance for the first time, as the crew fly across Cornwall on training flights. It is expected to be operational on April 1, the charity’s 33rd birthday.