Hovertravel has been linking communities together since 1965 and we value the important of strong partnership with the Charity and Business Community.
A Traveller's Perspective
Hovertravel is pleased to support WightAid, whose primary objective is to provide funding to charities, groups and organisations which aim to improve the lives of people who are living on the Isle of Wight.
Isle Access has been instrumental partner to Hovertravel ensuring we offer the highest level of service for those with reduced mobility. Isle Access is a user led charity committed to encourage and promote greater accessibility and inclusion for people on the Isle of Wight. Working with the tourist industry and local government, Isle Access is a useful resource for information about Island accessibility
Wessex Cancer Trust believes that there should be help and support available to everyone living with cancer, when and where they need it. They provide the affectional known mini bus ‘The Daisy Bus’ from the Southsea Hoverport to QA Hospital Portsmouth, an important transport link with those travelling from the Isle Of Wight to the mainland for treatment.
Mountbatten provides expert care and support to anyone on the Isle of Wight who is facing death, dying and bereavement. Services are provided free of charge to patients and their families, only possible to the incredible generosity of community for their continuing support, through fundraising and volunteering.
Euan’s Guide makes it easier for disabled people to find great places to go. The charity was founded in 2013 by Euan MacDonald, who is a powerchair user, and his sister Kiki. As Euan’s access requirements changed, both went in search of recommendations for accessible places to go, but a platform for this kind of information didn’t exist. Built as a friendly and honest alternative to hours of web searching and phone calls before visiting somewhere new, Euan’s Guide now has thousands of disabled access reviews and listings for places all over the UK and beyond.
Veterans Outreach Support (VOS) provides monthly drop in meetings and weekly mental health therapies for former members of the British Armed Forces and Reserves and their direct family members, including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Merchant Navy. Hovertravel are pleased to offer discounted travel for those travelling from the Isle Of Wight.
The Friends of Osborne undertake an annual programme of fundraising events which are open to both members and their guests. We aim to encourage interest in Osborne House, its history, buildings, contents, grounds and gardens.
Hovertravel is pleased to support Isle of Wight Pride with the objective to raise public awareness about the issues and difficulties affecting the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBTQI+); to cultivate a sentiment in favour of equality and diversity and in particular, through celebrating the diversity of the LGBTQI+ community and to stage an annual LGBTQI+ festival and smaller events throughout the year to further these causes.
HIOWAA is the charity that delivers an advanced Critical Care Team to sick and injured people in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight when they need it most. Available both day and night, 365 days a year, the Air Ambulance Critical Care Team is called out many times a day to attend road traffic collisions, sporting accidents, collapses and many other incidents.
Understanding that travelling with a disability or additional accessibility requirements can sometimes be time-consuming due to research, Unlimited Island have personally reviewed every venue shown to offer a full expectation of how the Island is for those with a disability and to direct you to reviewed, approved and rated places to eat, stay, relax and enjoy every second of your time here on the Island.
Hovertravel have worked with Ryde Inshore Rescue for a number of years, assisting with raising funds for the vital work the team of volunteers do, to keep Ryde beach and it's visitors safe.
Hovertravel are pleased to work with Visit Isle of Wight Limited is a not for profit company, dedicated to showcasing the Isle of Wight to the UK mainland and overseas audiences. Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Britain, Tourism South East and other tourism bodies
Shaping Portsmouth is a community interest company that delivers both a strategic and operational partnership between Portsmouth City Council, Portsmouth businesses, and educational institutions at all levels in the City. Our aim is to run valuable and relevant programmes that support the needs of the City, and the objectives of our partners.
Hovertravel, a Silver Patron of the Isle Of Wight Chamber of Commerce, a leading player in the British Chambers of Commerce Accredited Chamber Network, and provides an independent powerful voice for the views and concerns of its members at local, regional, national and international levels.
Hovertravel is a member of the Hampshire Chamber Of Commerce, a membership organisation, owned and managed by local businesses whose goal it is to protect and promote business interests.
Isle Of Wight Community Rail partnership delivers a range of activities that bring people together and help communities get the most from their railways, as well as helping our railways to thrive. These activities range from community gardening and arts projects on stations, to helping people with disabilities use rail, to advising train operators on meeting local needs.
A Traveller's Perspective
We asked one of our long-term commuters, Yvonne to tell us how she, both as a commuter and an Islander, saw our Island Rescue project. The following article provides Yvonne’s perspective on this innovative partnership between Hovertravel and the NHS.
Community values draw the IOW NHS Ambulance service and Hovertravel together in Emergency Transfer Partnership
When an ambulance is parked in the Hovertravel car park and the craft is late – as happened this year on 26th August – it may seem to the bystander that there has been a medical emergency on board. Not quite so.
Whilst most Islanders were housebound during Lockdown, a critical health emergency led to a synergetic partnership which sees on average one emergency transfer a day of critically‐ill patients between the Island and mainland hospitals. On 26th August there were four. It’s a development that has enormous benefits for the whole community.
This inspiring story of the meeting of minds and shared values began in late March/early April when the NHS ambulance switchboard received a 999 call requiring a transfer to a mainland hospital for a critically‐ill patient. Normally the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance would be available, but it wasn’t an option because Health and Safety rules designed to protect specialist air ambulance personnel required that the patient should have tested COVID‐negative – something not possible in those early days pre‐widespread testing.
Victoria White, Head of the Ambulance Service for Isle of Wight NHS Trust, explained to me the circumstances in which speed was of the essence, such as cardiac cases requiring coronary angioplasty (a small balloon inserted into a narrowed or blocked artery in the heart via a vessel in the leg) or even a stent.
With a time window of only an hour and a half, the ferry would have been too slow – especially as ferry timetables had been reduced. This was where the creative thinking of Darren Claydon, Ambulance Service Delivery Manager (Operations) proved so opportune. He recalled meeting the ferry operators at the Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum, which includes the main emergency services, utilities and transport providers.
Hovertravel had been keen to help in any way possible – although the company had expected to help with supplies and personnel – no one expected to be transporting patients at that stage.
Darren put through a phone call for assistance that reached Hovertravel’s managing director, Neil Chapman, and was delighted with the positive response. But then, as he says, the strength of “the Isle of Wight community is working together to make what we have work for us.” Victoria, too, was impressed with the response. ‘Right from the word “Go!” the attitude was positive.
Hovertravel asked two questions: “How can we help? What can we do?”’ Because the first case involved a wheelchair rather than a stretcher, Hovertravel crew could easily accommodate the patient; it’s something they are trained to do all the time.
Taking a stretcher case was to prove a little more taxing in that it required modifications to the craft to ensure a secure, safe passage for the patient and those modifications had to be approved by Hovertravel’s regulatory authority.
Hovertravel’s engineering team at Ryde and the hovercraft’s designers at Griffon Hoverwork worked together to create a system of straps to secure the stretcher and any accompanying medical equipment. Darren Howard, an engineer and Ambulance Station Manager also provided valuable assistance during the refitting project.
It was a sign of the times that normal bureaucratic processes were fast-tracked. The Maritime and Coastal Agency (MCA) safety checks were completed satisfactorily. Then came a few practice runs and emergency drills. Victoria has clear memories of being thrown around in the Solent (courtesy of an “obliging Captain”) to test the stability and security of the straps securing the patient and stretcher. All the time the vessel was in a motion intended to mimic the most challenging of conditions in which the hovercraft is permitted to sail, the paramedics and critical care teams practised CPR. They checked that they could work the complicated equipment that is often needed to support a patient until they reach hospital.
On dry land the pilot let down the vessel’s skirt to allow the teams to practice an emergency evacuation with stretchered ‘patient’ (a dummy!) At best, the Island‐to‐Mainland transfer can take the ambulance crew as little as 45 minutes from the first call: 20 minutes to get the patient to the terminal via ambulance, 5 minutes transfer to craft, 10 minutes crossing and 5 minutes handover to the waiting ambulance at Southsea, and then 10 minutes crossing back on the craft which will wait for them at Southsea so that they can return to the ambulance parked at the terminal.
Kerry Wherry, one of the Hovertravel Team Leaders, has been involved from the earliest days. She has strong connections to the ambulance service through her work with St John’s Ambulance and as an emergency responder. She is pragmatic about the way the operation works. Even so, she knows there are times that the reality of the situation makes an emotional impact.
Kerry recounts the moment when, as a member of the crew, she was attending to the straps with her back to the patient. She heard a voice call her name and turned round to see that it was her aunt who was so seriously ill. She felt herself go cold and burst into tears. She had to stand down. As she says, “We’re not robots.” Hovertravel managers recognise the distress that seeing someone close to them suffering can have on the crew and it has now become procedure to stand down if that happens and let someone else, more detached, take over.
However, there are a lot of happy endings, Kerry assures me – including for her aunt. Seeing patients return, often in a very short space of time looking considerably healthier, has been a huge boost to the morale of the staff, especially during a difficult period in which bad news has been all too common.
Undoubtedly there are efficiencies that benefit the whole Island community: a rapid turnaround for off‐Island emergency transfer means that the ambulance and its crew can be fully operational after as little as 45 minutes plus time taken to clean the ambulance back at base before the next call‐out.
Compared with traditional ferry timings that can use up to 6 hours that leaves an extra 5 hours available for Islanders needing routine 999 assistance.
Neil Chapman is delighted that the collaboration has prospered. He sees this venture as one which fulfils the altruistic part of the company’s remit. It’s the kind of thing that is “written in our DNA”, he says.
As Richard Price, the longest serving commuter of over 50 years, pointed out in the August Hovercraft Users Group (HUG) meeting, “Thanks to Neil, this is the development of something that has been happening for years.”
Victoria is quick to quote one of the green‐uniformed NHS ambulance crews: “Cut me in half and you’ll find my blood is green” It was definitely something to celebrate on Wednesday 2nd September: official recognition of the commercial and community benefits of this transport and health service collaboration. And, of course, there will be the NHS logo painted onto the hovercraft to cement the partnership.