AIR ambulance chiefs have been criticised by the Charity Commission after losing over £100,000 at a failed fund-raising event.
The commission investigated following a number of complaints about ‘significant losses’ made by the Princethorpe-based The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS) – which runs three emergency air ambulance services, Warwickshire & Northamptonshire and also the Derbyshire, Leicester and Rutland Air Ambulance and the Children’s Air Ambulance.
The losses came from the charity’s block booking of tickets for the stage version of The Bodyguard on its first West End run in 2012.
The event was deemed by the commission to be “poorly planned” after poor ticket sales saw TAAS lose £111,000, and any prior planning of the event was “significantly inadequate”.
But the service defended the fund-raiser and said the buying and reselling of theatre tickets was a method of fund-raising used by other UK charities.
A spokesman said: “2012 was a record year for fund-raising for TAAS and this was the only event not to make a profit in its own right, but it did serve as a useful profile-raising exercise and an opportunity to attract new supporters and volunteers on a long-term basis.
“TAAS now has in place an experienced fund-raising team and robust strategy to ensure each event is profitable in its own right.”
The Charity Commission also investigated the service in regards to a “large loan” made to one of the charity’s senior employees without input from the board of executives.
The loan is thought to be around £27,000, paid to a senior employee at the charity, but the commission did not know on what legal basis the loan was made.
But trustees insisted the loan was in the charity’s best interest, as it helped the service retain a high performing member of staff.
The charity said: “The loan referred to in the report was a one-off and made to a valuable employee facing unforeseen personal circumstances. It was interest-bearing and came with a guarantor – so there was no financial risk to the charity.”
It added the staff member in question was repaying the loan and payments were up-to-date.