A MASQUERADE ball will mark the end of an era for Gloucestershire's ambulance service conrrol room, which is relocating.

South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS) and Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) merged last year to create a single service for the South West.

GWAS had three control rooms, one in Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and another near Bristol.

The Wiltshire office relocated to Bristol last March and now Gloucestershire’s office follows.

To mark the “end of an era” relocation, Gloucestershire staff Sarah Owston and Kath Walters are organising a masquerade ball today in aid of Stroud-based Meningitis Now.

About 200 staff will enjoy a champagne reception, three-course meal, disco, collection and raffle, at Hatherley Manor Hotel, Gloucester.

Duty manager Ms Owston said they wanted to do “something special to go out with a bang”.

“The closure and relocation is an extremely sad occasion," she said. “We decided to organise the staff ball as an ‘end of an era’ celebration of our time in Gloucestershire.

“At the same time, we also thought it would be a great chance to fundraise for a local charity.”

The merger, to create a single foundation trust covering from the Cotswolds to Cornwall – the largest area in England – took place in February last year after Health Secretary-approval.

Critics claim it is too vast, but the chief executive said it will improve efficiency, with the workforce and budget being easier to control in the face of Government cuts.