A MILITARY doctor has been honoured by the Queen for using her battlefield experiences to save the lives of dozens of civilians throughout the region.
Dr Rachel Hawes received an OBE in recognition of her pioneering work with Newcastle Hospitals and the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS).
This included the introduction of the Blood on Board service, which allowed GNAAS to carry out roadside blood and plasma transfusions, the first time in the North of England this had been done.
The initiative, which has seen hundreds of transfusions given and dozens of lives saved since 2015, is delivered in conjunction with the Blood Bikes charities in Cumbria and Northumbria.
On Friday, Rachel, of Gosforth, Newcastle, travelled to Buckingham Palace with husband Mark Doherty to receive the award from the Queen herself.
She said: “I was shocked but delighted and honoured. It was really lovely to invite my husband and my parents down for the ceremony.
“I took them all to afternoon tea at The Ritz to say thanks to them for supporting me through all these endeavours which I’m sure they got sick of hearing about.”
Rachel paid tribute to those who she worked alongside to bring the projects to fruition.
She said: “I didn’t work alone but worked with a fantastic team of people who are all experts in their own area from consultant haematologist Dr Jonathan Wallis, transfusion lab manager Yvonne Scott and her team and Northumbria and Cumbria Blood Bikes who deliver our blood on a daily basis.
“Without the endless support and hard work from the countless people who have contributed, these projects just wouldn’t have been possible and it is those people who really do deserve the credit.”
Mr Andrew Welch, medical director at the Newcastle Hospitals said: "Rachel is a shining example of what makes the Newcastle Hospitals so outstanding.
“As she herself observes, the success of our regional major trauma network relies on a huge collaborative effort but the life-saving initiatives she has introduced in the North-East and beyond simply wouldn't have been possible without her personal commitment and drive to make them happen. We're all extremely proud of her."
Grahame Pickering, chief executive of GNAAS, which is a charity, said: “Projects like Blood on Board don’t just fall into place. They require determination, ingenuity and sheer graft, all of which Rachel displays in abundance.
“There are dozens of people out there now who are alive purely because of the work instigated by Rachel and then carried out by the wider team. The region should be very proud of her. Everyone at our charity certainly is.”