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Our History

Our CEO Jane Gurney reflects on the history of Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.

Our History

At Essex & Herts Air Ambulance, we believe that behind every milestone, every triumph, and every life-saving mission, lies a story worth sharing. As we navigate through the rich tapestry of our charity’s history, our CEO, Jane Gurney, serves as both curator and storyteller, reflecting on the impactful relationships, pivotal moments, and the very essence of what makes EHAAT possible.

From the enduring support of families like the Hobbs, whose unwavering commitment has been instrumental in our journey, to the exhilarating Motorcycle Run, which has become a cherished tradition since 1999, and even memorable visits from renowned figures like Bryan Adams, our history is marked by moments of resilience, camaraderie, and community spirit.

As we celebrated milestones like our 10th Anniversary and the launch of Hertfordshire’s Air Ambulance service, we acknowledge the steadfast dedication of our supporters, exemplified by events like Strictly Air Ambulance, which continues to shine brightly after 13 remarkable years.

Yet, amidst our triumphs, we have faced challenges too. The 2008 credit crunch tested our resolve, but through the unwavering support of initiatives like the lottery, we’ve continued to soar higher, ensuring that our life-saving missions never falter.

As Jane Gurney shares these stories and more, she encapsulates the heart and soul of our charity, reminding us all of the profound impact that every relationship, every event, and every moment has had on our journey. Click through to embark on a voyage through time.

Our CEO Jane Gurney reflects and shares existing stories, the impact of relationships and the history of Essex and Herts Air Ambulance

1. The Hobbs Family

The Hobbs Family is a very special relationship and it’s because of support like theirs that has made EHAAT possible.

 

2. The Motorcycle Run

The Motorcycle Run since 1999 and when Bryan Adams comes to tea.

 

3. The 10th Anniversary

10th Anniversary and Hertfordshire’s Air Ambulance service launches.

 

4. Strictly Air Ambulance

Strictly Air Ambulance, 13 years on and it is still as fabulous as ever and the jewel in our annual events crown!

 

5. Challenging Times

Challenging Times – the 2008 credit crunch and the difference our Flight For Life Lottery makes.

 

6. Launch of our first AW169

The launch of the first AW169 in 2017 — one of our proudest key milestones.

 

Our History

Over the past two decades, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) has continued to identify ways to improve what we do, driving forward with the best clinical care. From upgrading our fleet of helicopters, introducing rapid response vehicles, expanding our service across Hertfordshire and having a purpose-built airbase constructed on time and on budget despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have lots of meaningful milestones for you to explore!

Est.
1997

Essex Air Ambulance was established and began fundraising.

First Flight.
1998

Our first aircraft, a Bölkow 105 DB, began operating from Boreham Airfield with one pilot and two paramedics on board.

MOTORCYCLE RUN.
1999

We began flying seven days a week during daylight hours and launched our Motorcycle Run fundraising event, which is still thriving today.

Eurocopter
2003

Thanks to fundraising and public support, we upgraded our aircraft to the Eurocopter EC135 T2. We also opened our first charity shop in West Mersea, an idea proposed to us by a volunteer.

EHAAT
2007

Herts Air Ambulance charity was established, and we began to raise funds for a second aircraft. We merged the two services to become Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT).

Rapid Response
2008

The Herts Air Ambulance service, based at North Weald, became operational with a MD902 Explorer, and rapid response vehicles were added to the fleet. Pre-hospital care doctors were introduced to work alongside the critical care paramedics and pilots.

MD902 Explorer
2010

Essex Air Ambulance began flying a MD902 Explorer, the same model as Herts Air Ambulance.

Visitor Centre
2011

Essex Air Ambulance’s operational base moved from Boreham to Earls Colne. Our first visitor centre is opened at the Earls Colne Airbase with volunteers hosting tours.

Lottery
2014

Our Flight for Life Lottery reached 100,000 weekly playing members. It is a major source of income, raising millions of pounds for the charity.

New HQ
2015

The charity’s HQ moved into brand new premises on the Earls Colne Business Park. The Ware charity shop was opened, the first of our shops in Hertfordshire.

Co-pilots
2016

Co-pilots were introduced to the crew. This change allowed the paramedic to be in the back of the helicopter with the doctor and patient, enhancing patient care. Following the success of the visitor centre at Earls Colne, a similar centre opened at North Weald Airbase.

20 years
2017

We celebrated 20 years of serving the community and combined both services into one unified identity, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance. The charity’s new state of the art AW169 aircraft was unveiled. It is the first helicopter to be purchased rather than leased by the charity.

Volunteers
2018

Our dedicated team of volunteers grew to over 300. They are vital to EHAAT and support us in so many ways, from helping with fundraising activities and in our charity shops to representing us in the community and so much more.

Blood on board
2019

We began carrying blood on board. Giving a blood transfusion at the scene can be a life-saving intervention. The service became operational 24/7 for the first time, using helicopters by day and rapid response vehicles in the hours of darkness.

Covid-19
2020

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic altered the way our charity and clinical staff work in order to keep patients, volunteers, supporters and staff safe. Our airbase at Earls Colne was expanded and refurbished, with improved working conditions for the crews.

Airbase
2021

We open our purpose-built airbase here at North Weald. These facilities secure our future in being able to provide care to the critically injured across Essex, Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas.

Royal visit
2022

The Earl and Countess of Wessex have visited our new base at North Weald in a first Royal visit for the charity. The royals toured our new airbase and met EHAAT’s critical care team members, charity staff, and volunteers.

Night Flying
2023

Our crews here at EHAAT are now flying in the hours of darkness, having completed the Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) training necessary to extend our operational period and capability. We attended our first helicopter night mission on Saturday evening 14th January following an RTC in the Southend area.