The Yorkshire Garden Centres (YGC) group has announced that Yorkshire Air Ambulance will be its Charity of the Year for 2023 following a unanimous team vote.

Through a series of fund-raising events and collection boxes at the tills, the teams at Yorkshire Garden Centres' four sites at Tong, Tingley, Otley and Bingley hope to raise £19,000 for the independent charity that relies solely on the donations of individuals and organisations to provide its lifesaving rapid response emergency service to five million people throughout Yorkshire.

The Charity of the Year fundraising is managed by a committee led by the People and Culture team. YGC's People and Culture Business Partner - Sustainability Lead, Steph Bates said: "Yorkshire Air Ambulance was one of four charities that were nominated and voted on by our team and we're looking forward to helping them to raise the £19,000 it takes to keep the charity operational for just one day. The remaining three charities will each receive £150 from our Kindness Pot which supports good causes close to our team's hearts."

Plans to raise the funds include a team virtual sponsored walk that is the equivalent of walking 25,000 miles around the world, a 12k mud run, a skydive, raffles, bake-off competitions and collections. The fundraising kicked off with the team supporting the charity's Yellow Yorkshire campaign which runs during April and celebrates the life-saving work carried out by the emergency service.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance's regional fundraiser for West Yorkshire, Helen Berriman is delighted with YGC's support: "Thank you so much to everyone at Yorkshire Garden Centres for choosing Yorkshire Air Ambulance as your charity of the year. Every year we need substantial funds to keep our two helicopters maintained and flying, and without businesses like yours raising money, we simply wouldn't be here to provide the vital support that is needed in the event of an emergency. With everything the team has planned, it's going to be an amazing year of fundraising!"

Since Tong Garden Centre was acquired in 2015, the team and supporters have raised over £62,500 for charity. Previous beneficiaries of the Charity of the Year initiative include Forget Me Not children's hospice, Luke's Lads, Butterflies Mental Health, The Cellar Trust, Candlelighters and National Literacy Trust. In addition, the team has supported hundreds of smaller charities in the local community.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance was set up in 2000 and, with the addition of the second air ambulance in 2007, now operates its own Dedicated Air Desk for rapid dispatch of helicopters to an incident. Swift medical interventions have a major impact on a patient's chance of survival and subsequent quality of life. On average, dispatch time is around two to three minutes and patients are transferred to the nearest major trauma centre, flying at speeds of up to 160 mph.