Two Ambulance Service Strategic (Gold) Commanders who have worked at some of the largest major incidents in the North of England in recent years have become the latest recipients of the prestigious Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal for Distinguished Service, announced in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honours List on Saturday 09 June 2018.
The Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal (QAM) honours a very small, select group of ambulance personnel who have shown exceptional devotion to duty, outstanding ability, merit and conduct in their roles within NHS Ambulance Services. Today’s two recipients for England are:
Ian Walton, retired Deputy Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust with 39 years’ ambulance service experience.
Ian, 59, recently retired following a high profile 39-year ambulance career in the Yorkshire region, where his pride and passion for first-class patient care was always visible in everything he did. Aside from holding several senior positions (most recently as Deputy Director of Operations at Yorkshire Ambulance Service) Ian successfully managed high-profile, large scale events such as le Tour de France (in Yorkshire) and le Tour de Yorkshire cycle races. As Strategic (Gold) Commander Ian managed significant major incidents such as the December 2015 floods in Yorkshire – the most challenging winter period in recent memory for Yorkshire Ambulance Service – and assisted at the Great Heck train disaster in 2001. Ian also played a significant part in assisting the smooth running of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, working diligently to ensure his contribution made a real difference to patient care.
Neil Barnes, Deputy Director of Quality at North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust with 38 years’ service.
Neil, 54, has been awarded the QAM in recognition of the significant contribution he has made in his 38-year career in the North West of England. In May 2017 Neil responded to the Manchester Arena terrorist attack as the Strategic (Gold) Commander. During this particularly harrowing incident Neil was responsible for the overall command of the NWAS response by providing leadership, joint emergency services working skills and support at a strategic level. The recent Kerslake Report into the response to the incident specifically praised the ambulance service response. Neil has also devoted significant parts of his career to training and education at a number of levels in the ambulance service, bringing many new paramedics into the profession and positively influencing the patient care provided to many thousands of patients.
In addition, four other QAMs have been awarded in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to:
- Richard Bendall, a Paramedic at Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
- Jason Collins, a Finance Manager at the Welsh Ambulance Service
- Leanne Hawker, a Patient Experience and Community Involvement Lead at the Welsh Ambulance Service
- Pat McGrattan, Paramedic, Scottish Ambulance Service
Separately, Bransgore Community First Responder (CFR) and Scheme Co-ordinator, Mike Jukes, has been awarded with the British Empire Medal for Services to Emergency Response and Fundraising. More details are available here.
The recipients are now entitled to place the letters ‘QAM’ after their names, on occasions when the use of such letters is customary. In accordance with custom, the medals will be formally presented at an Investiture Ceremony later in the year.
Martin Flaherty OBE, Managing Director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) said:
“We are incredibly proud when ambulance service staff are recognised for their exemplary service in such a high-profile way as the Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal. This summer’s winners have shown extreme dedication to their roles in recent years which has led to significant benefits for patients, not least at times of tremendous pressure on the ambulance service. As always, we warmly congratulate the latest recipients.”
The QAM was introduced in 2012 and the number of nominations in any one year may never exceed ten and includes up to four Medals for England, up to two Medals for Wales, up to two Medals for Scotland, up to one Medal for Northern Ireland and up to one Medal for the Channel Islands.
The Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) is responsible for co-ordinating the nominations of QAMs in England, with nominations coming from within Trusts and being seconded by their Trust Chief Executives before being sent for consideration for final nomination by the AACE Board.