Sponsored by Airbus, the annual awards celebrates and recognises the specialist lifesaving skills and commitment of those working tirelessly within and in support of the air ambulance community.

The event held in Birmingham on Monday evening, was attended by hundreds involved in the air ambulance industry. Local lifesaving charity, Devon Air Ambulance, were thrilled to be there and to be recognised by peers for their innovative contribution to pre-hospital emergency medicine.

Earlier this year, all of the Air Ambulances across the UK were invited to submit nominations towards a number of categories set out by Air Ambulances UK and there were many deserving nominees received from across the UK in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland & Wales. DAA submitted 3 nominations and came home with 4 awards.

Of these 4, the first was presented to Advanced Paramedic in Critical Care, Lee Hilton, who won Critical Care Practitioner of the Year, in recognition not only for demonstrating excellent clinical standards and delivering the best possible quality of care to patients, but for being a true inspiration to all. Lee took an instrumental role in setting up the DAA Volunteer Responder Scheme earlier this year that, to date, has seen a trio of DAA specialist paramedics attend over 40 patients needing critical care, whom the volunteers responded to in their own time. The judges commented that this was a scheme ripe for replication.

Next, the Communications Team were announced winners of Campaign of the Year because of their hugely successful ‘Help with all your Heart’ campaign which educated the public in Devon about cardiac arrest, the importance of early bystander intervention and the use of defibrillators. This campaign will now continue into 2023 where the DAA team aims to reach even more individuals who could ultimately help to save a life.

The next award was received by DAA’s Toby Russell, on behalf of the Community Landing Sites Team, for winning Charity Team of the Year and for providing outstanding clinical and operational support by keeping the aircrew and patients safe whilst delivering time-critical care after dark. DAA now has access to over 190 surveyed community landing sites across Devon, enabling their operational crew to reach patients safely during the hours of darkness.

And finally, a fantastic finale to the evening’s awards ceremony, and especially for DAA, was the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Nigel Hare, Operations Director. This amazing accolade was in recognition not only of Nigel’s 25 years of service within the Air Ambulance Helicopter Emergency Medical Services community, but also his pioneering contribution to its development.

Before Nigel made his way to the stage, an AAUK spokesperson explained a little about Nigel’s commitment to the sector and his long serving career at DAA:

Nigel has flown thousands of missions as a HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) paramedic, and has taken training, development and the practical use of data to a new level.

'He brought his charity and the local ambulance service together in a partnership to establish the first dedicated and fully funded HEMS dispatch team, a model now widely used throughout the UK. He became part of his charity’s senior leadership team in 2012 and was one of the founding directors of the Association of Air Ambulances in 2013.

'In this position, he played a pivotal role in the development of the Association and of HEMS services throughout the UK – and beyond. He took on the incredibly complex task of developing a common dataset for air ambulances across the UK, he lobbied parliament for access to NHS data and LIBOR funds and represented the UK air ambulance community at the British Standards Institution.

'He was instrumental in Devon Air Ambulance applying for its Air Operating Certificate and its registration as an independent healthcare provider with the CQC (Care Quality Commission); their first CQC report is just in and it’s an ‘Outstanding’ result. Nigel is always keen to share his knowledge with colleagues across other air ambulance services and has been instrumental in the way the sector has forged ahead in its short life.’

Helena Holt, Devon Air Ambulance CEO added:

I could not be more proud of all our team.  These awards recognise their constant commitment to always striving to do more and do better for patients. But it also has to be recognised that we have only been able to do so thanks to our hundreds of volunteers and wonderful supporters without whom our service simply would not exist!

‘I am beyond delighted for Nigel who has received a very well deserved, Lifetime Achievement Award and very proud to see our incredible workforce recognised by our peers for their innovative achievements.’

The success of the the organisation would not be possible without the support of the communities we serve. Thank you for making our work possible.

Read our patient stories for how your support makes a lifesaving difference.

Banner image: Members of Devon Air Ambulance team celebrate receiving 4 awards
Top left: Lee Hilton, Advanced Paramedic Critical Care with his award for his work on the Volunteer Responder Scheme project
Second left: (left to right) Award Sponsor, George George, Director of Sloane Helicopters; Toby Russell, Projects Manager; Nicky Bolt (HEMS Delivery Manager); Rob Johnstone (Safety Manager)
Bottom right: Natalie Bush, Awards Sponsor, Specialist Aviation Services and Operations Director, Nigel Hare