Northern Ireland news

Maghaberry prisoners raise Covid funds for Air Ambulance 'neighbours'

Justice Minister Naomi Long joined Maghaberry Prison governor David Kennedy to present a cheque for £5,100 to Air Ambulance NI. Picture by Michael Cooper

RECYCLING and horticultural projects by staff and prisoners at Maghaberry during the Covid pandemic have raised £5,100 for Air Ambulance NI.

Prisoners throughout the maximum security facility were involved in recycling over 10 tonnes of plastic cups, while others made hanging baskets, planters and pot plants which were sold to staff and prisoners' families.

The money was presented by Justice Minister Naomi Long and Maghaberry governor David Kennedy at the charity's base in Lisburn, Co Antrim.

Mr Kennedy said Air Ambulance "are our neighbours, based close to Maghaberry Prison, and staff and prisoners will often see the Air Ambulance helicopter fly overhead on its way to a critical incident.

"In the same way neighbours have supported neighbours in the community during the pandemic, Maghaberry has been able to support the Air Ambulance charity.

Mrs Long described it as "a remarkable fundraising effort" and said both staff and prisoners "have shown great enthusiasm and imagination with initiatives during the Covid pandemic to support the community".

"Air Ambulance NI is a wonderful charity, but I am aware that many of their fundraising events this year have had to be cancelled," she said.

Kerry Anderson from Air Ambulance NI said it is "extremely grateful to the prisoners, families and community for choosing to support Air Ambulance NI charity", with the money raised going towards costs including helicopter maintenance and fuel.

Its medical team are needed up to twice a day to help seriously ill and injured patients and "can be the difference between life and death".

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