THREE charities have received a combined total of £50,000 thanks to Tesco customers.

It comes as the supermarket chain marked its centenary year with special Bags of Help funding rounds that concentrated on groups delivering health and wellbeing benefits.

In first place was Thames Valley Air Ambulance which was awarded £25,000, followed by St John Ambulance which was awarded £15,000 and AEDonate which won £10,000.

Customers were invited to vote for the project they wanted to receive the top prize, using blue tokens handed out at checkouts.

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The centenary funding will reach more than 30 regions, with £3,300,000 up for grabs in total.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance recently released figures showing it has seen a110 per cent surge in call-outs in 12 months, being dispatched 2,670 times compared to 1,233 times the year before.

It does not receive any funding from the government or the National Lottery but instead relies massively on donations from the public.

Doctor Syed Masud, Thames Valley Air Ambulance’s medical director, said: “It’s thanks to our supporters like Tesco that we are able to provide the highest standards of advanced medical care at the scene of an incident, including surgical procedures, administering anaesthesia and blood transfusions.

“This funding will help to pay for the essential medical equipment supplies we carry on our helicopter and critical care response vehicles. Some of this equipment can only be used once on each patient and therefore needs to be constantly replenished.

“From child and adult defibrillator pads to breathing equipment, these vital consumable pieces of kit allow us to give our patients the best possible chance of survival.”

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St John Ambulance, which has recently started a first-aid group in Bicester, said the grant will help to fund vital equipment to save lives and keep people safe.

Rebecca Mauger, director of fundraising at St John Ambulance, said: “St John Ambulance is delighted to be one of the charity finalists in the Tesco Centenary Grants. We’re looking forward to continuing our work, and are grateful to Tesco and all the customers who chose us.”

Keith Jackson, Tesco’s Bags of Help Manager, added: “Congratulations to the recipients of our first Centenary Grant voting round. In 2019, we are celebrating a century of delivering great value for our customers.

"And what better way to celebrate this occasion than by using our flagship community grant scheme, Bags of Help to support even more groups and organisations who are helping to make a difference across Britain.”