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Babcock has emblazoned one of its life-saving air ambulance helicopters with a spectacular garland of exactly 100 poppies – one for each year since the guns in the First World War fell silent.
The dramatic new livery, designed to help mark the centenary of the Armistice, stretches all around the aircraft and sits alongside its usual branding of the Wales Air Ambulance Charity (WAA). The aircraft also features the words “100 years” in English and Welsh on its nose.
The idea for the powerful new paint job came from Babcock pilot Grant Elgar, himself an ex-military pilot, who has been flying for the Wales Air Ambulance Charity for the past 10 years.
Grant said: “Marking the Armistice is incredibly important to me — and even more so on this, the 100th anniversary. I spent 23 years in the armed forces, and I’m proud to always wear a poppy on my flight suit at this time of year, and several of our aircraft feature one too, but for the centenary I wanted to do something more.”
With help from the charity and the Babcock team Grant’s idea to cover the aircraft in 100 poppies quickly became reality.
“There are exactly 100 poppies on the aircraft,” said Grant. “They are all individual specialist stickers so took a while to fix into place but the final design looks great and is already getting a lot of attention — there isn’t another helicopter like it anywhere in the world, and I hope it helps spread an important message of remembrance.”
Welsh Flying Medic Dr Ami Jones is also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserves with the 203 Field Hospital. She said: “Those of us who have been a part of the armed forces understand the impact that conflict has, not just on the individual but on their family and friends. People who are prepared to make the greatest sacrifice deserve the highest respect and our service is demonstrating our appreciation in a dignified way.”
While Babcock and WAA staff will all try to observe a minute’s silence on Nov. 11, there is no guarantee Grant himself will be able to.
“I will be on duty on the 11th, so if we have a call to attend an emergency I will have the aircraft airborne and responding – just as I would any other day of the year. However, the poppies – which will remain on the aircraft until after Nov. 11 — will serve as a useful reminder to everyone who sees us of the sacrifice made by so many in the First World War and many other conflicts since.”