Derbyshire Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance celebrates landmark 25,000th mission

Ross Cunningham was one of the air ambulance's first patients 'PHOTO: Supplied
Ross Cunningham was one of the air ambulance's first patients 'PHOTO: Supplied
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The Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance has celebrated a landmark achievement today by completing its 25,000th mission.

Former patients of the charity are marking the occasion by urging the public to donate to the service to help it continue its work transporting sick and injured people to hospital.

Those backing the new appeal include 30-year-old Leicestershire rugby player Ross Cunningham.

He was one of the first patients ever seen by the service which has been based at East Midlands Airport since 2008.

Ross broke his neck whilst playing rugby in January 2014.

He said: “It felt like someone was standing on my forehead. I couldn’t move my head but could move my other limbs.”

He wanted to get back up but luckily the referee, who was a doctor, ensured he lay still. Any movement could have caused permanent damage.

Just 11 minutes later the air ambulance landed on the pitch. The crew assessed Ross’s injuries and fully immobilised him to protect his neck and back before flying him to hospital for treatment.

He had a long road to recovery, spending five weeks in the Trauma Unit – where he endured several days ofsurgery – before being fitted with a Halo Brace. Now better, he fundraises for the service that helped save his life.

He added: “It was the referee’s clear thinking combined with the speed of The Air Ambulance Service that prevented my very serious situation from becoming a life-changing one.”

Richard Clayton, director of operations, commented on the achievement of the service in completing their 25,000th mission.

He said: “We are delighted to have come so far since our first mission and to have reached this significant milestone.

“We couldn’t have done it without our incredible supporters who continue to keep us flying today.

“It’s also down to our highly skilled and dedicated staff whose tremendous work over the years has made us the success we are today.”

The air ambulance charity is also hosting a number of reunion events for past patients as part of the 25,000 Missions Appeal celebrations this summer. If you’re a former patient and would like to attend you can sign up at or call 08454 130999.