Bideford Rugby Football Club pitch will make the perfect landing pad for emergency helicopters

Devon Air Ambulance will be able to land at night at special landing sites around the region. Picture: Michelle LovegroveDevon Air Ambulance will be able to land at night at special landing sites around the region. Picture: Michelle Lovegrove

Devon Air Ambulance can now use Bideford Rugby football club's pitch for landing at night.

It is thanks to a newly installed lighting system and an £850 grant from Devon County councillors Gaston Dezart and Robin Julian.

A unique mobile phone number is employed to remotely trigger the club's floodlights to enable night-time helicopter access.

Mr Dezart was rushed to Derriford Hospital following a near fatal collision in 2015, from which he has now recovered. He said: "I am very happy to have the opportunity to show my gratitude after I myself was airlifted by the Devon Air Ambulance Service some 18 months ago."

Former club president Tim Law said: "Bideford Rugby Football Club has given full support to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust project to establish a night landing facility in the North Devon area.

"The lack of suitably lit helipads restricts flying time enormously, particularly in the winter months. The floodlight infrastructure already in place at the club made the rugby pitch a favoured site for the installation of the necessary remote electrical switching system for night landing.

"The club and its members have first hand experience of the life saving service that the Devon Air Ambulance aircrew, paramedics and support staff provide for people in the area.

"Being a community club we are delighted to be playing a small part in providing such a valuable community facility."

Toby Russell of Devon Air Ambulance said: "The rugby ground makes an excellent location. The funding for the remote switching kit to operate those lights has been kindly provided by several local councillors and we are very grateful to them and the club for their support in making this night landing site become a reality.

"Local people might have noticed the Air Ambulance flying into the ground at night when we have been carrying out familiarisation flights."

The air ambulance received a £1million grant from bank fines in the Autumn Statement to make it possible to create a network of night time landing sites.