Two life-saving volunteers from north Northumberland have been honoured for going the extra mile for patients.
Mark Mather, from Wooler, and Kevin Marchant, of Shilbottle, have received special recognition awards from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS).
The duo were praised during a celebratory event held by the NEAS NHS Foundation Trust earlier this month – as part of Volunteers Week – to thank those who give a helping hand to the service.
The Trust, which covers 3,200 square miles across the North East region, serves a population of 2.7million people by handling all NHS 111 and 999 calls for the region, operating patient transport and ambulance response services, with support from more than 330 volunteers.
Whether as a volunteer porter, ambulance car service driver, community first responder or governor, NEAS volunteers invest thousands of hours in the service every year with some choosing to volunteer to help them in their career path and others want to give something back at the end of their career.
At the celebratory event, staged at Choppington Social Welfare Centre, 62 volunteers were recognised for long service of between five and 20 years and 12 were highlighted for going the extra mile for their patients.
Two volunteers received certificates to recognise their 20-year dedication to supporting the Trust along with 13 volunteers recognised for 15-year service, 18 volunteers for 10-year service and 28 volunteers for five-year service.
Community first responder Mark Mather was recognised for his support at an incident with paramedic Wayne McKay.
The incident was at a farm where there were two people injured after falling from horses.
Mark not only supported the ambulance crew to treat the patients but when the air ambulance needed to land and there were concerns about livestock in the nearby fields, he used his own skills as a farmer to shepherd the animals to safety and clear the land for a safe arrival of the air crew to reach the patient.
He was reported by the crew as having been a huge support. Mark has been a community first responder at NEAS since November 2013.
A retired firefighter, Mark now lives on a farm in a rural area surrounded by 2,500 sheep.
Mark said: “I joined the community first responder programme as I loved the fire service and I wanted to make a difference to someone’s life as I wouldn’t be here myself if it wasn’t for the ambulance service. I was in an accident at work and had to have my leg amputated and the ambulance service responded and got me to the hospital.
“As I live in a rural community, we may not get an ambulance as quickly as expected. Being a community first responder has provided a great opportunity to make a huge difference to my community.”
Kevin lives with his wife and two children and has volunteered for the service since April 2008.
Previous to volunteering, Kevin became a qualified craftsman and worked for the Marines. He then went on to become a college lecturer but left due to health reasons.
Kevin worked for the social services and provided support to vulnerable adults; this work was one of the reasons why he wanted to get into volunteering and being able to give back to the community.
He said: “The service we provide benefits the patients and the service, and the area in which I live is widespread and an aging population in Northumberland. Some patients are just not capable of getting on a bus and travelling to a hospital.”