The REGION'S air ambulance is celebrating 20 years as an independent registered charity this week.

Today, May 13, the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), which covers the North East, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man, will be celebrating its 20th anniversary of formally being registered as a charity and providing life-saving care to the region.

To mark the occasion, local landmarks across the region will be illuminated green on the evening of the charity's birthday, including the Tyne Bridge, Beacon of Light, Royal Border Bridge, and Carlisle’s Civic Centre.

David Stockton, the charity’s chief executive officer said: “Over the last 20 years, thanks to the support of the public, our charity has evolved from humble beginnings to being a world-class leader in pre-hospital care.

News and Star: LEADER: David Stockton and the air ambulance LEADER: David Stockton and the air ambulance

“We are always looking at ways to enhance and supplement our core service, which is treating the most seriously ill or injured people in the North and have often pioneered treatments months or even years ahead of other pre-hospital services.

“The donations we have received from the public has enabled us to respond to more than 23,500 incidents, enabling us to provide a vital service to the region.”

Some of the charity’s achievements over 20 years include introducing doctors on board their aircraft and rapid response vehicles, running successful pre-hospital training courses for clinicians from around the world, delivering blood transfusions to 500 patients and performing successful roadside open chest surgeries.

News and Star: CELEBRATE: Progress House - critical care teamCELEBRATE: Progress House - critical care team

Since 2015 the charity have provided an all-night service with a doctor and paramedic team on rapid response vehicles.

The service currently runs five nights a week in the North East and two nights in Cumbria, but with the support of the public, the charity aim to provide a critical care service 24/7.

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Andy Mawson, director of operations at GNAAS, said: “We are incredibly appreciative of the support we have received over the last 20 years and want to thank everyone who has donated and fundraised for our charity as this has helped us save countless lives and ease suffering across the region.

“With the continued support of the public we hope to offer this service for the next 20 years and beyond.”