Each year, Devon Air Ambulance attends hundreds of missions thanks to the dedication and hard work of our incredible supporters and volunteers.

As an independent charity we receive no government funding, so the service is very much facilitated by and for the people of Devon.

It is also the people of Devon who comprise the charity's staff, several of whom are former patients who have experienced the service first-hand. 

At the end of April as part of our annual Away Day, we had the opportunity to acknowledge the work of our teams and in particular some of those individuals whose contribution deserved special note. 

Awards for long service

Last year, Devon Air Ambulance turned 25 and several members of staff have worked for a number of those years. This year there were two 20 Year Service Awards, which went to Fundraising and Communications Director, Caroline Creer, and to Sarah Burden, our Marketing and Communications Manager.

Their awards were presented by one of the charity's patrons, David ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald (BBC Radio Devon and BBC Spotlight), who also presented awards nominated by staff and were voted for by a cross-department panel and one of our trustees, Richard Plunkett.

Several other staff were likewise acknowledged for their longevity and for their hard work in contributing to the charity and helping it to flourish.


Caroline Creer (left), Sarah Burden (right), both with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

The 'Bright Spark' Award

This category acknowledges the dynamic contribution made by individuals each day.

Highly Commended: Irrfan Hussain, I.T. Training Support Officer

Irfan was highly commended because he is always available and willing to help when needed. His input into the implementation of Sharepoint has been fantastic, and he makes a massive difference to our day-to-day work. Rolling Sharepoint out hasn’t been without its challenges, but he keeps the positive momentum taking it forward.

Winner: Chrissie Peel, Retail Operations Manager

Chrissie was chosen for delivering an exceptional new format in our Dartmouth Vontage and Variety shop. She was given a very limited brief: to research and deliver a new stand-alone format in Dartmouth. Somehow – perhaps by magic – she deployed her fantastic design skills and flair for the dramatic, and set up a shop that is truly beautiful.


Irfan Hussein (left), Chrissie Peel (right), both with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

The 'Above and Beyond' Award

Each member of the Devon Air Ambulance team is personally committed to supporting the charity, but there are occasions when the work of some individuals in particular deserve special celebration.

Highly Commended: Donna Bruton, Assistant Manager, Barnstaple

Donna was highly commended because she was engaged with the design and set up of our new shop in Dartmouth from the very beginning. Her creative flair was inspiring, and her enthusiasm infectious! She put in lots of additional hours and took responsibility for leading certain areas of the project.

Winner: Ali Simpson, Executive Assistant to CEO Helena Holt

Ali was chosen because she has stepped in to help out several areas of the Trust operations that are well outside her normal remit. She has helped with some fairly tricky issues that have required a balanced view and sensitive handling. She conducts herself with balance and poise and has an excellent manner, putting people at ease. Flexible and adaptable, she’s an example of professionalism and is a valuable resource for the organisation.


Donna Bruton (left), Ali Simpson (right) both with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

The Inspiration of the Year Award

Highly Commended: Chris Bellworthy

Chris was highly commended as one of our volunteers. After being airlifted in 2015 following a motorbike crash, he woke from a coma after 3 days, with no memory of the incident. He was in hospital for 5 weeks with internal injuries including losing his spleen, a punctured lung, twisted bowel, broken ribs, brain damage and a back injury.

Despite this, since recovering from his injuries, Chris chose to volunteer for Devon Air Ambulance as a speaker along with the help of his wife Sarah (pictured). He has participated in the motorcycle ride-out and always offers to help. He always has a smile on his face and spring in his step, taking great pleasure in sharing the great work with DAA.

Winner: Pat Kingston

Pat was chosen because he has been a wonderful volunteer, helping with 38 box collections as well as covering sickness, absence and ad-hoc box pickups whenever it has been requested. Sadly, Pat lost his son in an accident, and both is wife and daughter were subsequently taken unwell, but despite the odds, Pat cared for them both and continued to service his boxes (gladly both his wife and daughter have recovered well).


Chris Bellworthy and his wife Sarah (left), Pat Kingston (right), with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

The Services to Patients Award 

Highly Commended: Mark Hawley, Lead Specialist Paramedic in Critical Care

Mark was highly commended because he is always willing to help, despite his busy and demanding job. Whilst always closing observing the code of patient confidentiality, Mark will respectfully share appropriate details of an incident when asked. Where opportunities arise for Mark to meet former patients, he does so willingly.

Winner: Doctor Clare Bosanko, Critical Care Doctor

Dr Clare was chosen because the culture she has culture she has created of learning and reflective practice undoubtedly places our patients at the centre of our care. Without Clare’s diligence in this area, we would not have been able to deliver our advanced clinical development programme. Due to Clare’s hard work, we are in the fantastic position of not only knowing our clinical skills are safe and effective, but also being able to prove it! We’ve all benefited from Clare’s work in this area.


Mark Hawley (left), Clare Bosanko (right), with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

The Volunteer of the Year Award

Highly Commended: Graham Gordon

Graham was highly commended because of his commitment to volunteering for DAA. He joined as a volunteer in June 2016. Sadly, he suffered a heart attack in May 2017, meaning he was unable to volunteer for us while he recovered. But he was not going to be deterred by this, and he came back to DAA in August 2017 ready and willing to undertake both the role of box collector and speaker. He has also set himself a task to generate 50 new box outlets within his community. To date, he has been successful in obtaining 35 box distributors and continues to aim for his target.

WinnerMargaret Young

Margaret was chosen because she is 100% reliable. She sadly lost her husband recently, but within a month she asked if she could come back to volunteer. The comments customers write in the Comments Book consistently praise the windows that she creates, using her wonderful use of colour and knowledge what looks good – she has volunteer for DAA for 10 years.


Graham Gordon (left), Margaret Young (right), with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

The Shop of the Year Award 

Highly Commended: Honiton

Honiton shop was highly commended because they have delivered and contributed well, even with the poor conditions they are currently working in (at early March 2018). Angie, Debi and the volunteers are always upbeat and do the best they can.

Winner: Plymouth Armada

Armada was chosen because the team in Plymouth have cemented DAA’s presence in the town very quickly. Armada exceeded all expectations in terms of income, and is one of our busiest shops. The volunteers are welcoming and are engaged with the charity. The shop faces some challenges around stock generation and the team have to deal with some rather unsavory characters throughout the year due to its position in the middle of the city. The team meet these challenges with professionalism and maturity, and are a credit to DAA!


Angie and Debi of the Honiton shop (left), the Plymouth Armada team (right), with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

The Manager of the Year Award

Highly Commended: Sarah Burden, Marketing & Communications Manager

Sarah has been Highly Commended as an incredibly positive team leader and manager. She is enthusiastic and supportive of those around her, as well as being a great champion of the charity and her colleagues. She has retained her kind, friendly and bubbly nature but is also growing professionally, presenting herself with real confidence and assertiveness. Overall, Sarah has a hugely positive impact on the charity and richly deserves this award.

Winner: Debbie Emery, Assistant Manager, Newton Abbot Shop

Debbie was chosen because of her commitment to the charity and her consistently hard-working and positive attitude.  She is always willing to help support her colleagues and, this year, has been absolutely vital in stepping up to look after Totnes shop while a new manager was identified. What was originally going to be a few weeks turned into a few months! She helped to stabilise the team, improved standards and increased sales. She is an outstanding member of staff who deserves to be recognised for her outstanding work ethic and commitment.


Sarah Burden (left), Debbie Emery (right), with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

The Employee of the Year Award

Highly Commended: Cara Jones, Volunteer Manager

Cara has been Highly Commended in this category as, during the short time she has been with the charity, she has shown a real commitment in co-ordinating a huge team of 500+ volunteers, building on old and new relationships, seeking out new opportunities with them and inspiring them to become more involved. Her approachable manner and winning personality have really helped to transform and grow this absolutely vital area of the charity.

Winner: Melanie Stevens, HR Advisor

Melanie was chosen because she has a huge responsibility within the organisation for the very complex world of HR. While undertaking this role, she has also completed her CIPD accreditation.  She is always seeking new initiatives to help improve and promote the charity and with her growing confidence, has really embraced her role and her ability to influence others and manage ‘upwards’.  Despite the high pressure environment she works in, she maintains a positive can-do attitude and willingness to help others, and does it all with a smile!


Cara Jones (left), Melanie Stevens (right), with BBC Radio Devon's, David Fitzgerald.

A huge thank you to everyone who has dedicated their support to the charity, both within Devon Air and beyond.

In 2017 it cost £6.4 million to keep Devon's Air Ambulances flying. If you would like to support Devon Air Ambulance then there are many ways in which you can do so, from volunteering your time, to making a donation, or setting up a fundraising event, to remembering us in your will.