It’s been a busy year for GNAAS, with record-high call-outs, new charity ambassadors and inspiring supporters, young and old. Here we reflect on some of the highlights of 2023:
24/7 service in the North East
At the start of this year we officially started providing critical care 24/7 in the North East. Since 2015 a paramedic and doctor team from GNAAS has been operating on an all-night rapid response vehicle to help deliver care to the most ill or injured people across the North East. The service was originally commissioned by the North East Ambulance Service and operated on Friday and Saturday nights, but after seeing a high demand during the two busiest nights of the week, we decided to fund a further two nights in 2018.
It has been a long-term ambition for the charity to cover every night of the week so that no matter when someone is in need, the team are able to respond. We’ve been working hard to fund the additional nights and in January 2023 we became a 24/7 service in the North East.
Night-time service expands in Cumbria
In addition to providing a 24/7 service in the North East, we expanded our all-night rapid response vehicle service in Cumbria to four nights a week. We initially launched our night-time service in the region in May 2021 covering Friday and Saturday nights, from 8pm to 8am, when the charity’s air ambulances do not fly. We have been working hard to fund the additional nights, and in March we expanded to cover Thursday and Sunday nights, meaning we are getting closer to providing a 24/7 service in Cumbria.
Clothing recycling service moves to our HQ
In January our clothing recycling team officially relocated from Newton Aycliffe to the charity’s headquarters near Eaglescliffe. GNAAS’ Trading Company has been collecting and recycling used clothing, books, and office supplies donated by the public since 2004, with all of its profits donated to the charity on an annual basis. The team relocated to the charity’s headquarters in January and they now work alongside their charity services colleagues and the critical care team who moved in a few years ago.
New charity ambassadors
We welcomed two new charity ambassadors who are jockey Emma Smith-Chaston and Kerry Irving.
Emma is helping to spread awareness of GNAAS by wearing the charity’s logo on her jockey silks and has also rallied the support of her agency, Integral Sports Management, who kindly donated a prize for one of our charity ball which raised over £2,000 in the auction on the night.
Kerry, who runs the social media for Max Out in the Lake District, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for our charity by hosting several community events and dog walks. Through his fundraising he has funded a brand new rapid response vehicle and a fundraising van, which he suprised our team with during his Christmas-themed community events in December 2022 and 2023.
Increasing our presence in the Isle of Man
Since March 2022 we have been trialling our service in the Isle of Man and have responded to 36 incidents so far. To help increase our presence in the Isle of Man we have recruited Sophie van Hooven, who is our fundraising lead for the Isle of Man. Sophie is responsible for the fundraising events on the Island and creating awareness of the charity and the work our critical care team carry out to support Manx residents. We have also created a Facebook group providing updates to Isle of Man residents. The group is updated regularly with posts, including answers to any questions, incident updates and an opportunity to share experiences.
New Chairman and Trustee join our Board of Trustees
We’ve appointed two new friendly faces to be part of our Board of Trustees. Jonathan Jowett is our new chairman, and Lauren Huntington, is our new trustee.
Jonathan, is company secretary and general counsel at Greggs plc, the Senior Independent Non-Executive Director at Newcastle Hospitals Foundation Trust and has previous charitable experience following a nine-year trusteeship at The Percy Hedley Foundation, ultimately as its Chair.
Lauren Huntington is deputy director (alumni and supporter engagement) at Newcastle University and will work with the team on marketing, external engagement and fundraising to help ensure GNAAS is well-known and well-funded.
UK wide air ambulance blood research trial goes live at GNAAS
A new blood research trial began earlier this year at GNAAS, which explores new treatments for bleeding trauma patients. The two-year SWIFT (Study of Whole Blood in Frontline Trauma) trial involves nine other air ambulances in the United Kingdom and the project is led by NHS Blood and Transplant in partnership with the Ministry of Defence. The trial will compare outcomes between those who receive red blood cells and plasma transfusions versus those patients who receive whole blood.
Everything we have achieved so far this year has been thanks to our incredible supporters who have been raising both funds and awareness for our charity. Some notable supporters from this year include Adam Price who completed the fastest half marathon dressed as a three-dimensional aircraft, five-year-old Ollie Sainthouse who became the youngest person to walk the coast to coast, Jaye Caffery, our individual giving marketing officer who shaved her hair off and Sue Wilkinson, a former patient and current volunteer who got a GNAAS tattoo.