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Lifesaving charity to remain in the heart of Wrexham for years to come after purchasing shop in conservation area

THE WALES Air Ambulance Charity has become the official owner of its popular shop in Wrexham, after completing the purchase of the property on Henblas Street. 

The building, situated in a conservation area of the city, is the first retail site to be bought outright by the all-Wales Charity. 

The investment forms part of the Charity’s new retail blueprint, which aims to strike a balance between generating income for its lifesaving service while enhancing the Charity’s community presence across the country.

The blueprint was influenced by feedback from employees, supporters and volunteers during a strategic review in 2021.

Wales Air Ambulance has been trading in the outlet since 2011, having previously rented the unit. The purchase has been made possible thanks to a £250,000 grant from the Transforming Towns Placemaking Grant. It is funded by the Welsh Government and administered by Wrexham County Borough Council. 

Hannah Mitchell, Grants and Trusts Fundraiser for Wales Air Ambulance said: “We’re delighted to have been successful in receiving this substantial grant, which will not only boost footfall and contribute to the city centre regeneration but will also help to raise awareness of our lifesaving service in the local community. 

“The grant will ensure that the Wales Air Ambulance charity shop will remain in the heart of the Wrexham community for years to come.” 

The Transforming Towns Programme was launched in March 2020 to support the development and delivery of strategic regeneration projects as well as smaller-scale place-making activity.  

It also plays a vital role in supporting the location of services in town centres which might otherwise have been located elsewhere. 

Cabinet Secretary for Housing, Local Government and Planning, Julie James, said: “Our Transforming Towns programme allows local authorities to support projects that revitalise town and city centres to help create a sense of place and vibrant high streets for their communities. 

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“Through the programme, a capital grant of £250,000 has been provided to boost footfall and improve a popular retail space in Wrexham’s city centre. 

Councillor Nigel Williams, Lead Member for Economy, and Regeneration said: “I’m really pleased that the Wales Air Ambulance were able to acquire this property by using the Transforming Towns Placemaking Grant.  

“It will provide them, and this popular charity shop a permanent home and will enable improvements for staff and users alike and make a huge contribution to making the town centre an accessible place for all to visit.” 

Wales Air Ambulance is a consultant-led service, taking hospital-standard treatments to the patient and if required, transferring them directly to the most appropriate hospital for their illness or injury.  

It is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sector partnership. The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the charity’s vehicles. 

The Wales Air Ambulance Charity needs to raise £11.2 million every year to keep the helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road. 

The Wales Air Ambulance charity shop is now set to undergo a massive makeover, with some of the Transforming Towns Placemaking Grant being used to improve disability access, energy efficiency and modernise the shop space. 

Rob Coles, Wales Air Ambulance’s Head of Retail, said: “We are breaking new ground as a charity with the purchase of our very first retail property. 

“Our shop in Wrexham is hugely popular and supported by the local community. It plays a key role in raising much-needed funds to maintain our lifesaving service throughout Wales. 

“We feel very much part of the community and we hope this shows our commitment to the area and the preservation of its heritage.” 

The shop also provides local volunteering opportunities and employment.  

Rob continued: “The refurbishment of our shop is going to make a huge difference to our volunteers, staff and shoppers too. 

“It doesn’t have disabled access toilets or facilities for the volunteers or for the shop staff. The changing room also doesn’t have disabled access. So, the work we are undertaking will mean our facilities will be accessible to all.” 

A local contractor, MPH Construction, has been appointed for an extensive refurbishment which is due to start in mid-July.

The popular shop is expected to re-open its doors to the Charity’s dedicated supporters sometime in October. 

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