Air Ambulances UK proudly presents the 2023 Awards of Excellence Winners, hosted by Hayley McQueen. The annual awards celebrate and recognise the dedicated professionals who tirelessly contribute their specialised lifesaving skills and unwavering commitment to the air ambulance community. Our panel of judges deliberated long and hard over some very difficult decisions due to the outstanding quality of the nominations.

Simmy Akhtar, Air Ambulances UK CEO said:

“Congratulations to our 2023 Awards of Excellence winners and their outstanding contributions. Our panel of judges made some tough decisions when choosing the winners and we would like to thank everyone who entered. Despite continuously having to face global and national challenges, the air ambulance community throughout the UK has remained determined to provide the highest-level specialised patient care at the scene. All nominees across categories, along with the shortlisted candidates and winners, collectively form a united group that collaborates to support their local communities during times of necessity. We extend our immense gratitude to the dedicated staff, volunteers, and supporters within our life-saving community.”

AAUK Annual Conference and Award Winners Group Shot 2023

In no particular order our award winners are:

Campaign of the Year

Sponsored by: Lottery Fundraising Services

WINNER: Cornwall Air Ambulance

This heartwarming animation depicted Holly’s true story after a serious road traffic collision. The campaign’s synergy with local media, a dedicated website, and a digital strategy resulted in an astounding £220,000 raised. The campaign attracted 500+ new donors, reconnected with 400+ lapsed donors, and reached over 5 million people through radio, TV, online, and social media. A remarkable achievement in fundraising and engagement!


Charity Staff Member of the Year

Sponsored by: Charisma Charity Recruitment

WINNER: Natalie Church, Director of Operations, Magpas Air Ambulance

Natalie’s journey from a temporary admin role to Director of Operations over 22 years is awe-inspiring. Her pivotal role in transformative projects—enabling 24/7 service, introducing a new helicopter, implementing the Advanced Paramedic service, and leading the development of a new airbase, HQ and training centre—showcases her dedication and leadership. Natalie’s commitment to the charity’s growth and her recent Mental Health First Aider training reflect her exceptional character and compassion.


Charity Team of the Year

Sponsored by: Donorfy

WINNER: Cornwall Air Ambulance

Embracing this year’s theme of collaboration, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity nominated Cornwall Air Ambulance. The Cornwall Air Ambulance Finance & Business Intelligence team boldly integrates data sources, using modern tools to generate invaluable insights. Beyond their charity, their collaborative outreach to other air ambulances exhibits a commitment to shared learning, fostering a community dedicated to saving more lives. A remarkable accolade honouring their impactful and collaborative efforts!


 Charity Supporter of the Year

Sponsored by: Tower Lotteries

WINNER: Polledri family, Great Western Air Ambulance Charity

The Polledri family’s initiative, The Sam Polledri Foundation, emerged from a devastating loss when Sam Polledri, a healthy 24-year-old, tragically suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away due to the absence of nearby defibrillators. In response, his family and girlfriend Lisa, established The Sam Polledri Foundation with Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, aiming to ensure that every part of Bristol is within a three-minute reach of a defibrillator.

Raising £65,000, the Foundation has already installed ten defibrillators in strategic locations across Bristol, with many more in progress. What’s remarkable is not just the number but the impact: these devices and the training they provide have already saved a life, a testament to the immense influence of community-driven support.

Importantly, the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity team, have been pivotal. They’ve been on-site, treating individuals whose lives were directly saved by the use of these defibrillators, showcasing the profound impact of swift action and community-driven initiatives in life-saving scenarios.


Critical Care Practitioner of the Year

Sponsored by: Zoll

WINNER: Matt Sawyer from Dorset & Somerset Air Ambulance

Matt’s leadership in advancing pre-hospital care and research, notably through his pioneering work with ultrasound and the NHS Blood & Transplant – Swift Trial, showcases his dedication to innovation. His advocacy for patients extends to championing aseptic blood culture procedures, working in tandem with South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust.


Doctor of the Year

Sponsored by: Leonardo

WINNER: Dr Jake Turner, The Air Ambulance Service

Dr Turner’s outstanding contributions over the past year have been pivotal in advancing maxillofacial injury and resuscitative thoracotomy treatments — specialised fields focusing on severe facial traumas and life-saving chest or heart injury interventions. Dr Turner’s proactive approach in acquiring cutting-edge surgical equipment, implementing specialised training, and updating policies based on the latest research has significantly raised the bar in medical care.

His dedication, innovative mindset, and efforts in building strong relationships between TAAS and the Major Trauma Centre highlight his unwavering commitment to excellence in healthcare.


Innovation of the Year

Sponsored by: Black Bear Creative

WINNER: Magpas Air Ambulance

Ali Hieatt’s (MAGPAS) groundbreaking creation—an intricately handmade pregnant uterus model—revolutionises training for a perimortem caesarean. This innovation, born from multiple fabric iterations and designs, equips clinicians with vital practice for critical scenarios, such as a pregnant patient’s cardiac arrest. A perimortem caesarean section is an emergency surgical procedure performed to deliver a baby promptly when the mother is in cardiac arrest or facing life-threatening conditions. Ali’s ingenuity provides colleagues with invaluable confidence, preparing them for real-life emergencies.”


 Operations Support Staff of the Year

Sponsored by: MSA Safety

WINNER: Greg Browning, Wales Air Ambulance wins

As Critical Care Hub Manager at The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service Cymru, a vital division intricately linked with Wales Air Ambulance, Greg orchestrates the intricate workings of the critical care service. His wisdom and leadership are invaluable, earning him immense respect among colleagues. Greg’s enthusiasm sets a remarkable standard in the field.


 Special Recognition Award

Rob Collingwood, Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Rob, who tragically passed away from cancer at just 42, was an invaluable member of Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s pilot team. His unwavering dedication persisted through personal challenges, embodying profound selflessness. Despite facing a diagnosis that halted his flying, Rob continued supporting the charity. His impact on colleagues, patients, and the community defies measurement. Rob’s legacy remains and the void left by his absence echoes the irreplaceable mark he made.


 Pilot of the Year

Sponsored by: Gama Aviation

WINNER: Captain Russ Myles, Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance

Russ played a pivotal role in establishing Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance, leveraging his extensive flying experience to create an operation tailored for Scotland’s unique environment. Over a decade, Russ’s exceptional flying skills have impacted countless lives, navigating through Scotland’s challenging weather conditions and terrain.

His expertise and dedication have served as a lifeline for numerous families, earning admiration from fellow pilots for his mentorship, patience, and outstanding skill in handling aircraft in Scotland’s demanding weather conditions.


 Special Incident of the Year

Sponsored by: Aeroptimo

WINNER: Wales Air Ambulance

Responding to an unexpected home birth of extremely premature twins amidst severe weather conditions, their team undertook heroic interventions. Despite challenging odds, their advanced care, including a difficult intubation, critical medication administration, and innovative warming methods, paved the way for one twin’s miraculous survival.


Young Person of the Year

Sponsored by: Sloane Helicopters

WINNER: Molly Harris

Molly’s incredible bravery and quick thinking saved her mum’s life after a horse-riding accident. When her mum’s horse came galloping towards Molly riderless in the yard, Molly, who is autistic, had to overcome her instincts to shut down so she could secure the horse, then go and look for her mum. She scoured the fields searching for her, eventually finding her and staying with her while they waited for Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance to arrive. Molly’s mum, Emma, had been thrown from the horse and had suffered a brain injury and severe swelling around her spinal cord. The crew treated her and airlifted her to the hospital. Her resilience didn’t stop there—raising £180 for Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance during their 6k-a-day-in-May challenge, even finishing bareback after her gear was stolen. A true inspiration, Molly continues to tackle challenges and fundraise for a cause close to her heart!


Trustee of the Year

Sponsored by: Round Table GB and Ireland

WINNER: Barney Burgess, Kent Surrey Sussex

Barney’s remarkable journey from a patient to Chair of Trustees showcases his outstanding governance, empathetic leadership, and business acumen. Surviving a cardiac arrest in 2015, he brings powerful empathy to his role. His collaborative approach spearheaded pivotal projects like the development of an Aftercare Service, the defibrillator drone project, in-flight care trials, and more. Barney’s leadership embodies compassion, accountability, and integrity, marking him as an influential figure in the field.


Lifetime Achievement Award

Sponsored by: Airbus

WINNER: Ian Roberts, Midlands Air Ambulance Charity

With an outstanding 20-year tenure at Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and an incredible 40-year journey dedicated to saving lives across the Midlands, Ian’s impact has been colossal. From his roles as an emergency medical professional—starting as an EMT and advancing to a critical care paramedic, air operations manager, and beyond—his legacy is awe-inspiring. However, it’s Ian’s unwavering commitment to patients and colleagues over four decades that truly distinguishes him. His enduring dedication leaves an indelible mark on the field of emergency care.


Chairs Award

WINNER: Cliff Gale, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance

Cliff Gale of Essex & Herts Air Ambulance is the deserving winner of the prestigious Chairs Award! This award, chosen by AAUK’s Chair, recognises individuals who’ve made remarkable and lasting contributions to the air ambulance sector.

Cliff’s exceptional leadership over 15+ years steered EHAAT to incredible milestones and laid the groundwork for exceptional growth.

His vision led to transformative changes – from establishing a new base at Earls Colne to acquiring the AgustaWestland 169 (AW169) helicopter and developing the North Weald Airbase. His dedication and strategic prowess have propelled EHAAT’s growth and enhanced its operational excellence.


Please click here to view available images from the AAUK Annual Awards. More Images to follow soon.