Great North Air Ambulance Service

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Great North Air Ambulance Service at Barrasford

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is an English charity based in the United Kingdom. It provides air ambulance services across the North of England, including North Yorkshire, the North-East, Cumbria and Scottish borders. It currently operates three helicopters across its bases at Langwathby, near Penrith, Cumbria and Durham Tees Valley Airport. All three aircraft were introduced into service during 2010 and 2011 are owned by the charity, previous aircraft being leased. The three helicopters are Eurocopter Dauphin AS 365 N2s[1] G-NHAA, G-NHAB and G-NHAC.


The charity’s roots go back to 1991, when the Great North Air Ambulance Service Appeal was launched with the aim of providing the North East of England’s first helicopter air ambulance. It took four years to raise enough money to bring this dream to fruition.

A controversial but ultimately visionary decision by the Chief Executive of the North East Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Simon Featherstone, really set the wheels of the new-look charity in motion. He realised that if the charity was to be successful, it would not be under the control and strict guidance of the Ambulance Service. From this moment, the NHS began its gradual withdrawal from the running of the helicopter’s operations.

The charity in 2001 was not immediately in a position to withstand the burden of supporting the air ambulance operations. Public donations had never exceeded £50,000 a year. Interest in the fundraising lottery had dwindled to just 900 members. It had just one active volunteer. It had no office, no infrastructure, and 10,000 undistributed collection tins.

In 2010 the decision was taken to buy three helicopters in order to ease the financial strain of leasing the aircraft. In March 2010, a deposit was placed on the Guardian of the North helicopter, which arrived in the North-East after undergoing a refit. It was followed in 2011 by the new Pride of Cumbria aircraft, which was stationed at Langwathby, near Penrith. Later the same year, a third helicopter – as yet unnamed – was secured and went to work across the two bases.[2]


The Great North Air Ambulance Service operates three aircraft, based across northern England. It is one of only three air ambulance services in the UK to operate three aircraft, the others being the Midlands Air Ambulance and the Wales Air Ambulance.[3][4] However the Scottish Ambulance Service operates two rotary wing and two fixed wing aircraft. Scotland's service is the only NHS funded Air Ambulance service in the UK.


The Great North Air Ambulance must raise £4 million a year to keep their three helicopters in the sky.[5] The charity has successfully used a number of different marketing tactics to raise the required £4 million each year.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Aviation News, read all the latest aviation news". Multiflight. 1 November 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "The Association of Air Ambulances in the UK". 11 September 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "Home of Great North Air Ambulance". GNAAS. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 

External links[edit]