Ambulance "Oscars" night honours NEAS staff

Bravery and long service recognised at gala evening in Newcastle

Teary eyes and croaky voices were the order of the day as the North East Ambulance Service gathered  to honour its workforce.

Six member of staff from different branches of the service collected Staff Recognition Awards for outstanding performance in their particular area of expertise at a gala evening at The Discovery Museum in Newcastle.

The winners were selected by a panel made up of NEAS Foundation Trust Governors, and members of the NEAS Executive Team.

While NEAS holds an annual event recognising long service, this was the first time individual awards had been given to members of staff honouring personal achievements during the last 12-months.

The Chairman's Awardwent to Bernie Breen; John Callaghan; Susan Dixon; Neil Drummond; Martin Ganley; Shaun Ganley; Joseph Hubbard; Gerard Thompson and Malcolm Woods.

This was for their commitment and continued support to a placement programme within NEAS called Project Choice. It provides opportunities for young people with learning difficulties to spend time working within NEAS at Pallion, gaining experience which might prove useful in the future.

The A & E Awardwent to Marianne Ellison, Paul Handley and Paul Megson, for putting patient care first by risking their own lives while injured at a house explosion in Gateshead earlier this year.

The Contact Centre Awardwas collected by Andrew Bell for handling difficult situations on a number of occasions, representing NEAS in court and demonstrating a consistent sincere and caring manner.

The Patient Transport Service Awardwas won by Marie Webb for continuing to give excellent patient care despite personal health problems.

The Support Services Award went to Lesley Walker for mentoring other staff in the department, for taking on extra duties, and supporting initiatives within the trust.

Mentor of the Year Awardwent to Stephen Emms for providing educational and emotional support to students during their training, and for continued support after they had qualified.

Student of the Yearwas named as Matt Curtis, for his enthusiasm, willingness to help out, and development of learning materials which can be used to help support newly-qualified paramedics.

Long service awards were also presented to 49 members of staff, with a combined total service with NEAS of 1,160 years!

NEAS awards alternative

Tony Dell, chairman of NEAS, said: "These awards are a huge and heartfelt thank you to staff for recognition and long service. The longest service tonight is 40 years, when the price of petrol was just 39 pence.

"A lot has changed in the ambulance in that time, but one constant has been the excellent service delivered by our staff on a day-to-day basis. So how do you single out the exceptional?

"Our first recognition awards have been nominated by you, our staff, putting forward other staff. After all, you are best placed to identify true champions. Given that this is our first year, I am really delighted by the responses we've had. The judges had a tough job in picking the winners and everyone nominated is a worthy winner.

"Sadly not everyone receiving an award could be here tonight. That is the nature of our job. But our working hours are only possible because of the families who support us in our jobs. I would like to use this opportunity to thank them as well for their support."

Nigel Sherlock, Lord Lieutenant of Tyne & Wear, said: "It is a great honour for me to present the medals and certificates. You have all dedicated your lives to serving the patients of this area and it seems that all to often the recognition from the public is indifferent.

"This is a remarkable service and I am honoured to be here to give you all heartfelt thanks on behalf of the communities you serve.

"I have witnessed how significantly the ambulance service has changed and developed in the past years. But the front-line services in emergency and PTS care cannot work without the support behind the scenes; whether it's call takers or maintaining the vehicles or some other role to provide an effective, important and efficient support.

"It's like putting the final pieces of a jigsaw together which make up a service which you should all be extremely proud."

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