Lady Montagu settled in Hampshire in 2005 when she married Hon Ralph Montagu, heir to the Beaulieu Estate.
Born and raised in The Netherlands, she read languages at Oxford University and has worked in Belgium, the Netherlands and London as an editor, journalist and translator.
She is also archives officer to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), the UK’s only all-woman military unit and part of the city of London’s emergency response team.
‘Being a member of the FANY has in some ways prepared me for involvement with the Association of Air Ambulances. Both are voluntary organisations, both are permanently on call and both bring together people from all walks of life who are resourceful and ready to be of service.’
Ailsa has been Patron of HIOWAA since the service first began operating on 1 July 2007. Both the charity and the first flight were launched from Beaulieu with her involvement. ‘Like most people, I assumed that the Air Ambulances were state-funded, and was amazed to learn that they get no government or even lottery support. Both the aircraft itself and the fuel it uses rely entirely on public donations. Yet the service it provides is something we absolutely cannot do without if we want to save people’s lives.’
‘When I was part of a group being taught First Aid, we were taken through various life-saving treatments. But the most important thing we were told was that speed was of the essence. Speed is what the Air Ambulance is about. Whether it’s a congested town centre or a remote rural area – and Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have both – there are some incidents that only a helicopter can get to quickly enough. Not only this, but with our team of paramedics and doctors, we are literally able to bring the hospital to the patient.’
‘The fact that the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has been steadily expanding its service to the community since the start of flying operations just eight years ago is a tribute to the commitment of our volunteers and to the generosity of the public. But the work of fund-raising must go on. With the launch of a full night flying service at the start of 2016 our operating costs have increased to £9,000 a day. With your support we will continue to save lives and provide emergency medical support where and when it is needed most.’