A HELICOPTER crew is appealing for more public support after a surge in rescue call outs.

The Great North Air Ambulance (GNAAS) is having one of its busiest ever years – and says the cost of missions is at an all-time high.

Last year, the Pride of Cumbria aircraft, which is based at Langwathby, near Penrith, flew on 452 missions.

But by the end of June this year it had already flown on 308 calls, and aswell as increases in the costs of fuel and maintenance, the charity has recently upgraded its helicopter and added advanced equipment.

Director Barbra Walton said she hoped the public would continue to support the service.

“We are totally reliant on what the people give.

“The Cumbrian public have shown remarkable generosity in getting the Pride of Cumbria up and running, but now we need to call on them once more to ensure it remains in service,” she said.

GNAAS is launching a drive to recruit more supporters, both in volunteering and from the corporate world.

Businesses can attend open days on September 8 and 9 to gain an insight into the operation, with a tour of its base and helicopter.

A volunteers’ open day will also be held on September 10, at a venue to be confirmed. For more details, call 01325 487236.