Birthday celebrations have been held for the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), as it marks 15 years as an independent registered charity.
GNAAS honoured the occasion with more than 350 supporters at its annual ball last weekend, 15 years to the day that it was formally registered as a charity.
Grahame Pickering MBE, the charity’s chief executive, said the landmark was a testament to the generosity of the people of the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
He said: “The charity has evolved from very humble beginnings to become one of the UK’s leading air ambulances.
“Over the last 15 years, with the support of the general public, the charity’s innovative and ground-breaking practice, often months or years ahead of other pre-hospital services, has enhanced the standards of care delivered to more than 16,000 patients in our region.
“Never before has the region had such an advanced critical care out-of-hospital service that has benefitted so many individuals and their families. A credit to the people of the North.”
Among those to attend the celebration at the Hilton Newcastle Gateshead was Henry Brooke, the professional jockey whose career was thrown into jeopardy in a fall at Hexham Racecourse last year.
Thanks to the air ambulance and the team of medics and the rehab centre, Mr Brooke has since returned to the saddle.
He said: “It’s hard to imagine what we did before GNAAS existed. My life wouldn’t have been the same. It’s a great reminder for us all to dig deep and get behind this cause.”
Ahead of the ball, hosted by the charity’s patron Pam Royle, Mr Pickering met patients at the charity’s Cumbrian base at Langwathby.
Neil Wilson, of Berwick, was one of those present. He needed a pre-hospital blood transfusion – one of the first to take place in north England – when he was involved in a cycling accident.
He said: “GNAAS is phenomenal. It’s only when you need them that you realise how vital they are.”
To support GNAAS, visit www.gnaas.com or call 01325 487263.