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NI Emergency Department Heroes & Ambulance All-Stars in friendly football match for charity

28th September 2023

Emergency Department staff from across Northern Ireland along with Northern Ireland Ambulance Service staff gathered at the Ulidia Playing Fields in South Belfast on a rainy Saturday afternoon for the ‘big’ Inaugural Football Match where an incredible £1,500 was raised for the Air Ambulance NI Charity.

There was a family fun carnival atmosphere at the match with music, ice cream, burgers and children’s face painting.  Some deemed this event to be the match of the century, a showdown between Northern Ireland Ambulance Service staff (NIAS) and Northern Ireland Emergency Department (NIED) staff!

Emergency Medicine Doctor Chris Boyle, at the Ulster Hospital (NIED’s) and Paramedic Chris Maguire, (NIAS), led their teams onto the pitch with pride, in the hope that one would triumph over the other. Although it was for charity, competitiveness took over! As young children, grandparents and partners cheered from the side-lines, spectators were entertained by some very good footballing skills from both teams, with a great deal of camaraderie when a tackle went wrong! The crowd lapped up the performance on show as NIED’s were winning 2 – 1 at the half time whistle. The second half was the opportunity for NIED staff to accelerate their dominance by putting an additional six goals into the back of the opposing net. At the final whistle, true sportsmanship was on display, with a promise from NIAS that next year’s score-line would be different!

Commenting on the success of the event, Chris Boyle said, “Both NIED and NIAS staff would like to thank everyone who attended and supported this fantastic event. We are incredibly proud to play our part in supporting the crew of doctors, paramedics and pilots within Air Ambulance NI who provide a 365-day operation. We all have our part to play and what a service we can and are honoured to support.

“We would like to acknowledge our Partners, Street Soccer NI a charity set up to work with the disadvantaged of society such as the homeless, addictions, mental health, ex-prisoners whose aim is to bring positive change to people’s lives through football. Also to Cancer Focus NI (Care in the Sun) who support local families affected by cancer. Skin Cancer is the most common cancer in Northern Ireland with 4,210 people developing it each year Care in the Sun aims to reduce the incidence of skin cancer and deaths from it in Northern Ireland. The team fully appreciate and are greatly encouraged by both organisations’ involvement in this first venture.

“We would also like to thank Rosario Football Club for hosting the event and looking after everyone so well. We received such a warm welcome and encouragement. We are very much looking forward to returning for next year’s event.”

Acknowledging the support of staff and supporters, Chris Maguire added, “The recent football match played in aid of Air Ambulance NI demonstrated the strong working relationship between the Ambulance Service and Emergency Department staff. Together we raised a significant amount of money for a very worthwhile cause and as Ambulance Service employees, we witness the benefit this service bring to patients.

“The match in itself was a hugely successful family event and tribute must be paid to all the spectators who came out to watch and support both teams, while also donating money at the side of the pitch. Although the result did not go in our favour, we are looking forward to coming back stronger next year and setting the record straight on the pitch.”

Air Ambulance Northern Ireland (AANI) is solely reliant on support from the public and local businesses. Fundraising enables AANI to function for the well-being of all our communities.  Since its inception, it has been tasked a staggering over 3,600 times. Serious or life-threatening situations can arise at anytime, anywhere or to anyone. Each day, that means two individuals may find themselves in critical need of the Air Ambulance.