FORMER Upton rower and Olympic gold medallist Zac Purchase has become one of the latest sports stars to be appointed as an ambassador for the Midlands Air Ambulance.

The 27-year-old former King's School, Worcester, pupil won gold with Mark Hunter at the 2008 Games in Beijing and he will now support the charity with its national and local fund-raising and awareness campaigns.

He is joined by rugby world cup winner Neil Back, former hockey player Jane Sixsmith, Paralympian Mickey Bushell, para-cyclist David Stone, para-equestrian rider Ricky Balshaw, Paralympic shooter Ryan Cockbill and para-sprinter Katrina Hart.

The charity's chief executive officer, Hanna Sebright, said: “I am delighted and honoured on behalf of the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity to welcome so many remarkable Olympians, Paralympians and sporting heroes to help support our cause.

"The profile and awareness that they can individually and collectively bring to the charity is invaluable and one for which we are truly grateful.”

Purchase, who used to compete for Upton Rowing Club and now lives in Tewkesbury, announced his retirement from the sport this week.

At the 2012 London Olympics, he and Hunter joined forces once more and claimed silver in a dramatic final as Denmark's Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist took gold.

All of the ambassadors were either born or train in the region and have decided to support the life-saving work of the charity.

The charity responds to about 3,000 emergency incidents per year and its figures show sporting incidents were in the top five call-outs for the service.

Of the 40,000 incidents responded to since 1991, sporting incidents have accounted for more than 2,250 call outs and the service responds to an average of 12 sporting relating incidents per month.

In the last 12 months alone, the charity has attended more 1,000 road traffic accidents on some of the most congested motorway networks in the country, responded to 175 industrial accidents, 432 sporting injuries, 158 equestrian accidents, completed 100 emergency hospital transfers and airlifted 188 children.