Two young patients at Oxford Children’s Hospital got an early Christmas present when the Thames Valley Air Ambulance (TVAA) crew paid a special visit and gave them a VIP tour of their helicopter.

The trip was arranged after Dr Helen Care, Clinical Psychologist at the John Radcliffe Hospital reached out to Thames Valley Air Ambulance to explain how excited one of her regular young patients had been when the air ambulance landed outside during one of his appointments earlier this year.

Six year-old Finley Amey, who has a genetic syndrome and has had multiple surgeries over the past few years, even brought a toy helicopter with him to an appointment in the hope he would see the air ambulance fly in and when it did, described it as ‘the best day of his life’.

Touched by Finley’s enthusiasm for the life-saving air ambulance, the TVAA crew wanted to go one better. With the idea of giving Finley and other children at the hospital a much needed Christmas boost, they arranged a surprise visit with the John Radcliffe Hospital and Finley’s parents, who were absolutely thrilled at the gesture.

Finley was joined by fellow patient Kai Gray, who was very excited to see the helicopter because he wants to be a pilot. Kai said: “I used to want to fly planes, but now I’ve changed my mind to helicopters instead.” His mum, Nicki, called it an “awesome experience” and that it “really made Kai’s day”.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance Paramedic Kevin Letchford was able to be a part of the visit and said: “A lot of our patients are very poorly and rarely remember meeting us, so it was amazing to see how excited Finley and Kai were. It must be very difficult for young children to be continuously in and out of hospital so we thought we could fly in to meet the boys and their parents. Hopefully it was a nice surprise before Christmas.”

The air crew landed at the John Radcliffe Hospital’s helipad at lunchtime today and went down to the Children’s outpatient department to surprise the boys, before heading back to the helicopter for a look around!

The children were delighted to try on flight helmets, sit in the co-pilot’s seat and ask the paramedic, doctor and pilot lots of questions about their job and what it’s like to fly in the helicopter.

Finley’s mum, Diane, explained that after TVAA heard how excited he’d been when he saw the helicopter for the first time, they penned him a heart-warming letter encouraging him to wave to them because “they would always wave back.” Little did he know he would soon be sitting in the helicopter, instead of just waving at it! Diane added: “I’m really thankful to Helen for setting this all up. Hopefully seeing the helicopter has made coming to hospital a much more positive experience for Finley.”