VOLUNTEERS have been praised for raising more than £100,000 for a new ambulance in a year.

The Sussex Ambulance Appeal was launched in June last year for St John Ambulance by the charity’s county president, Caroline Lucas.

Ms Lucas also set up a fundraising committee to drive the appeal.

During the coronavirus crisis, the health and first aid charity has been actively supporting the NHS on the frontline.

Several donations have been made to the appeal amid the pandemic, including £20,000 from the Sussex Masonic Charities.

Volunteers at the St John Ambulance unit in Southwick also raised £8,000.

Many attendees for a fundraising lunch which was due to take place this month donated their ticket money to the appeal after the event had to be cancelled.

Donations soared and the target of £105,000 for a new ambulance has been reached.

To celebrate the achievements of all those who supported the appeal, St John Ambulance held a virtual lunch.

Speaking at the event, Ms Lucas said: “I would like to thank the wonderful team who have supported this appeal – all the volunteers, the units, and those who have chosen to donate such generous sums of money. It’s been absolutely incredible.

“It’s my belief that many were inspired to donate to St John after hearing about our wonderful volunteers and their incredible work, right here in the heart of our community, during the pandemic.

“They continue to inspire us all as they volunteer day in, day out, supporting the NHS at The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton and The Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

“They have helped us to get ‘over the line’ in this fundraising appeal and I’d like to thank them and everyone who made this huge achievement possible.”

Martin Houghton-Brown, chief executive of St John Ambulance, added: “I must pay tribute to Caroline and her fundraising committee – largely for their enthusiasm and energy, and not letting up in their efforts to achieve their goal.

“It’s an incredible achievement to have reached this fundraising total in such a short amount of time.”

The ambulance will be delivered in January and is a lighter model, which means anyone with a driving licence can drive the vehicle. It has a large interior and will be a multi-functional vehicle, used for both emergency response and for St John’s first aid events work.

For more information,go to www.sja.org.uk.