Earlier this month, the Great North Air Ambulance Service said goodbye to long-serving pilot, Chris Wood.
Chris flew hundreds of times for the charity after starting work as a relief duty pilot in 2010. He also trained dozens of crew members in his role as training captain.
However, Chris has now left his post and taken up a new one with a Manchester-based charter firm, with a rollcall of famous clientele to transport.
After saying goodbye to his somewhat less-illustrious old crewmates, Chris said he would miss the camaraderie at GNAAS.
“The highlight was just being part of the team,” he said. “The level of care that is being delivered and the experience on the helicopter is incredible, and it was a privilege to be a part of that and to witness it working up close on a regular basis.
“I would go to work every morning, driving up the A1, thinking ‘what am I going to face today?’ Next thing you know, you’re at a car crash on the A19 or on top of a fell in the Lakes.”
As well as the crew, Chris said he’d also miss the three Dauphin AS365N2 helicopters that make up the GNAAS fleet.
“The Dauphin is a stately old girl,” he said. “She’s fast, one of the fastest air ambulances there is, and I’ll miss flying her on those cold, crisp, clear winter mornings around the Lake District or over Northumberland. That’s hard to beat.”
But it’s not necessarily the adrenaline rush of the rescues that Chris will miss most. He said being involved in the charity gave him constant reminders of the generosity, warmth and general good nature of the public.
“One time sticks with me,” he said. “We’d flown to Seaham and I was waiting with the aircraft while the medical team was treating a patient. An old lady came up to me with £2 which she said she wanted to donate out of her pension.
“That pension is worth what, £80 a week? And she wanted to give a portion of it to keep us flying. That sums up how much this service means to people. I’m proud to have been involved. It’s humbling.”
Everyone at GNAAS wishes him all the best for the future.