It has been an incredible year for the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance - and there are exciting times to come for 2016.
Twenty-one years since the first airlift, the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service and the charity which funds it have gone from strength to strength.
Looking back over 2015, there have been a number of significant milestones for the team, including flying more than 900 missions and moving into a new purpose-built airbase at RAF Waddington.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the unwavering support of the public - with the organisation describing its volunteers as a ‘critical element’ to the operation.
A spokesman said: “We are fortunate to have an army of volunteer fundraisers, individuals and companies who have undertaken to raise funds for the charity during the year.
“It’s a fact that without these wonderful people we simply could not keep our Ambucopter flying. A heartfelt thank you to everyone for supporting us this year.”
Those who most appreciate the service are those who have had to call upon them to save their lives from often desperate situations.
The spokesman said: “Our aircrew, alongside our colleagues in the East Midlands Ambulance Service and the other emergency services, often go beyond the call of duty to help those in need of care, often in very difficult circumstances.”
“It has been truly wonderful to receive so many heart-warming letters and phone calls of thanks and gratitude from people in the community who have been touched by the life-saving service we provide.”
He added: “Our new purpose-built Airbase was finished in August, saving our crew valuable minutes that they previously lost when running from their old, run-down base to the helicopter launch pad. The up-to-date Airbase now houses new high-tech equipment, training and meeting rooms and offers hitherto dreamed of ‘luxuries’, such as separate male and female toilets!”
In October, as the nights drew in, the Ambucopter night flying kicked in. This extended service, which started back in 2013, means the crew can fly after dusk, airlifting patients guided by specialist lighting equipment and night vision technology.
Looking ahead to 2016, plans are afoot for the introduction of a new helicopter, an AW169, which will replace the current MD902.
The helicopter’s larger cabin area will offer space for an additional person, 360-degree access to patients and faster flight speeds, thereby improving the service to the community even further.
The new year brings about the arrival of a new chief executive for the charity, with Karen Jobling replacing Peter Aldrick in mid-January.
Karen said: “I’m honoured to be taking over the reins from Peter. With our new airbase, the continued introduction of doctors to the service and the arrival of a new helicopter in the summer of 2016, we have lots to look forward to.
“We, of course, couldn’t continue our life-saving work without the one thing that remains constant; the incredible support of the people of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. This year we’ll need to raise £2.2 million to keep our helicopter flying every day, at least three times a day.
“But I know we can do it because of the giving hearts of our supporters and fundraisers. Like our aircrew, you are all life-savers.
“In 2016, our Ambucopter crew will, of course, be at the ready to respond to emergencies, as they are every day of the year.”