THE NORTH East's air ambulance officially celebrated its 20th anniversary of being an independent registered charity on Friday.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) celebrates its 20th anniversary of being registered as a charity and providing life saving care across the North East, North Yorkshire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man.

To mark the occasion, landmarks across the region were illuminated green on Friday evening, including the Tyne Bridge, Beacon of Light, Royal Border Bridge and Newcastle Civic Centre.

Hexham Courant: CHIEF: CEO David Stockton with the GNAAS aircraft. Image: GNAASCHIEF: CEO David Stockton with the GNAAS aircraft. Image: GNAAS

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.

"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."

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Across the 20 years, some of the charity's achievements include introducing doctors on 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.

Hexham Courant: PARAMEDIC: Andy Mawson, director of operations. Image: GNAASPARAMEDIC: Andy Mawson, director of operations. Image: GNAAS

Andy Mawson, Director of Operations at GNAAS, said: "Our vision for the future is to be able to help those in need 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and deliver the highest level of pre-hospital care no matter what time of day, or day of the week."

"By becoming a 24/7 service this would help us reach hundreds more patients every year and ensure someone's worst day doesn’t become their last.

"This can only be achieved if we raise the additional funding required to activate our team every hour of every day if needed."

The charity needs to raise £10 million a year to provide a critical care service 24/7 on both their helicopters and rapid response vehicles in the North East and Cumbria.