Our Chair of Trustees, Gillian Bryce, looks back over the past six months.

There cannot be many of us, if any, whose lives have not been affected over the past two years by the effects of COVID-19 and its various mutations. However, we have adapted, adjusted and re-evaluated what is important to us. The importance of air ambulance services to the communities they serve is now understood and appreciated by the health care sector as never before. As we move towards the “new normal”, it is clear the service we deliver will continue to be in demand.

In the latest edition of our Beeline magazine, you can read details of our success in this year’s Air Ambulances UK Awards for Excellence. These are awards for air ambulance services which are equivalent to the Oscars and I think I can say that Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance swept the board. With 21 air ambulance services competing in ten categories, we were shortlisted as finalists in five and came out winners in three. This is outstanding recognition of the hard work of our team and demonstrates the excellence of patient care that the charity provides; all of which, you help to fund! I would like to record my personal congratulations to everyone involved and say how proud and honoured I am to contribute to such an excellent organisation.

The Board of Trustees are currently facing its biggest challenge since I joined almost nine years ago – how to replace the irreplaceable. Sadly, our excellent Chief Executive Officer, Bill Sivewright, is retiring in June, so we are currently recruiting to find someone new to take up the reigns and lead the charity into the future. Bill will be an exceptionally hard act to follow, but I am hopeful that there will be a lot of interest in the position and that we can appoint a first-rate individual in due course. Bill’s outstanding contribution to Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and the air ambulance community over the last 11 years, was also recognised at the Air Ambulances UK Awards of Excellence when he was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award. You can read more about this on our website.

Hopefully, the coming months will see a return to normal and opportunities to gather and celebrate with friends and family are on their way. Final plans are in place for our Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge, which takes place on Sunday 15th May and we would love to see you at the start or finish line, as we celebrate some incredible achievements on the day.

Everyone within the charity knows that without your generous donations and the time which our volunteers donate every month, we would not be able to do what we do. Thank you so much for enabling us to help others.