• Pictured, left to right, are Stephen Tate, John Lough, Alan Brown, Yvonne Ormston (NEAS Chief Executive), the Lord-Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear Mrs Susan Margaret Winfield OBE, Steven Debrikasaan, Clair Allinson and Brian Hesp

Frontline ambulance employees honoured with Queen’s Medal

Medal awarded for more than 20 years' frontline service

North East Ambulance employees with a combined service of more than 100 years of frontline medicine have been honoured by the Queen.

The Queen’s Medal, which was issued under Royal Warrant in July 1995, is given to emergency ambulance staff who have demonstrated good conduct throughout a working period of more than twenty years.

Alan Brown, Bryan Hesp, Clair Allinson, Stephen Tate and Steven Debrikasaan from North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and former employee John Lough were presented with their awards by Her Majesty’s representative, the Lord-Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Mrs Susan Margaret Winfield OBE, at a ceremony at the Trust’s headquarters in Newcastle today (Tuesday, 4 October).

Over the course of their careers, it is estimated that Alan, Bryan, Clair, John could have attended to more than 30,000 patients each.

In order to qualify for The Queen’s Medal, ambulance staff must have at least 20 years in frontline Emergency Care duties or seven years frontline and 13 years in Emergency Care management.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs Winfield said: “I feel extremely proud of what we have done. The service that you give is invaluable.

“On behalf of the wider community, we are immensely grateful for all that the ambulance service does. We rely on you, we trust you and we value you.”

Chief Executive Yvonne Ormston said: “Recognition at this scale highlights the importance of the job our crews do.

“They deal with some very difficult situations at times but their professionalism and dedication always shines through.

“The Queen’s Medal not only recognises their long service but also provides us with a chance to thank them for the job they do. It is something to be very proud of and it’s a great privilege for me to share the moment with them.”

All but one of those to receive their medal continue to work for NEAS.


Stephen, aged 56, of Durham, began his career with the Patient Transport Service in August 1993 after leaving the mining industry. He qualified as a paramedic in 1998 and has been based in Durham and Peterlee throughout his career. He is now based in Durham city centre.

He says his proudest moment was passing the paramedic course.

“I like making a difference to people,” he said.

“It doesn’t have to be a lot of difference sometimes, I’ve had successful resuscitations and I’ve delivered a few babies but sometimes just talking to the patient or those little bits that you do for them that can make all the difference to them.”

Clair’s career in the ambulance service also began with the Patient Transport Service in June 1994.

Originally based in Coulby Newham, the 45-year-old paramedic, of Redcar, transferred to Redcar on joining A&E and has remained there ever since.

She said: “I’m very lucky to have worked with some fantastic colleagues over the last 20 years. I’m very proud of them.”

Bryan’s ambulance career started in November 1990 at Alnwick station, also on the Patient Transport Service.

He moved to Broomhill ambulance station to work on A&E in 1993 and has since moved around the north of the patch, including Hexham, Ashington, Belford.

Now based at Belford, the 56-year-old, of Amble, has recently stepped down as a paramedic to go back to being an Emergency Care Assistant.

“It’s been an adventure,” he said.

“It doesn’t seem like 26 years I must admit. I would recommend it as a career to anybody.”

Like the other three, Alan also began his career with the Patient Transport Service in October 1993 before moving over to A&E. He qualified as a paramedic in 2003.

Throughout his career, Alan, aged 54, of Widdrington Station, has worked at 10 stations in the north and central divisions and is now a community paramedic based at Rothbury.

Alan was one of the Trust’s first mentors, helping to train the next generation of paramedics, and met his wife Louise while working at Ashington ambulance station. They now have a four-year-old daughter, Niamh, together.

“I love my job,” he said. “I find it’s very rewarding to be able to work autonomously. I especially like working in the community where there’s a lot of cohesion between the different nursing staff and GPs.”

Steven, aged 54, of Cornhill-on-Tweed, started his career with London Ambulance Service in May 1995, before a move up north brought him to NEAS in 2003.

Now based at Wooler as a community paramedic, he said he had “no regrets” about his career.

John, aged 65, of Hexham, has now retired from NEAS following a long and varied career which began in 1982.

As well as working as a frontline paramedic, John took on various roles throughout his career, including Control Duty Manager and Training Manager. His job even led to him meeting then-Prime Minister John Major.

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