IT saved its first life one year ago.

And now a children’s charity is appealing for help to continue a vital service that helps keep infants alive.

Since last May the Children’s Air Ambulance has flown 38 babies to hospital when it was not possible to take them by road, including Southampton tot Freddie Laker.

His parents Anna and Nick Laker were at a friend’s wedding in Leeds seven months ago when Anna unexpectedly went into labour.

She was rushed to a local hospital where she gave birth to Freddie, but he required lengthy hospital care and the family were desperate to go south to be closer to friends and family.

Doctors said Freddie was too delicate to travel by road so the Children’s Air Ambulance was called in for its first patient transfer, taking Freddie to a hospital in London in just one hour.

Anna said: “We are so grateful to The Children's Air Ambulance as without them we would have been forced to stay several hundred miles away from the support of our friends and family, possibly for several weeks before Freddie would have been well enough to travel by road.”

Freddie was kept in hospital for two weeks before he was allowed home.

Now the charity, which gets no Government funding, is appealing for donations to raise the £134,000 needed every month to keep the service flying.

Andy Williamson, chief executive, said: “Lots of babies have benefited from our service over the last 12 months and we are becoming busier every month. As we are funded entirely by public donations, we urge everyone to spread the word and help keep hope alive for critically ill children and their families.”

Its specially-adapted helicopter, which can reach speeds of 185mph, has been described as a ‘flying intensive care unit’ and is kitted out with special equipment.

Meanwhile if a baby is not well enough to travel by air, the charity’s helicopter will fly a specialist medical team to the child.

The charity also has Melanie Walcott, wife of ex-Saint and England striker Theo, as a patron.

To donate to the Children’s Air Ambulance, visit thechildrensair