Air Ambulance Northern Ireland has won two awards in the national Air Ambulance UK 2021 Annual Awards of Excellence.

Beating off stiff competition from other air ambulance charities, Myrtle Irvine who volunteers for Air Ambulance NI has been awarded Volunteer of the Year and the charities agribusiness group has also won the award for Campaign of the Year.

The prestigious Awards were held at a special virtual ceremony attended by air ambulance charity leaders and team members from across the UK. Sponsored by BMW Group, they celebrate the professionalism, excellence, and dedication of all those who work and volunteer within the air ambulance community to ensure that people with a life-threatening injury or illness rapidly receive advanced pre-hospital critical care to provide the best possible chance of survival.

Volunteer Myrtle Irvine from Enniskillen was presented with the award due to her tireless support and dedication to the local charity. Much like all 130 volunteers who support and represent Air Ambulance NI with pride, Myrtle has helped to raise awareness and much needed funds for the life-saving service. Myrtle’s first fundraiser for the charity was an extremely special and significant one. In 2016 Myrtle handmade forty wreaths and sold them in memory of her son Alastair who had passed away earlier that year. Since then, Myrtle has gone on to co-ordinate a group of 27 volunteers in her local area and this year alone has helped to raise an amazing £37,000, which could fund the service for almost a week!

Speaking about the award Myrtle said: “I am proud to have won the Award and I am dedicating it, not only to the memory of our son, Alistair but to all those Volunteers in our Group who have lost loved ones too.”

Beige Mulholland Head of Operations and Finance at Air Ambulance NI commented: “We want to say a huge congratulations to Myrtle for this well-deserved win, we are so pleased to see your hard work and dedication recognised by this highly commended award. In so many ways Myrtle’s achievement recognises the work of all our wonderful volunteers and we at Air Ambulance NI are very humbled and appreciative of everything that they all do for the charity.”

The Air Ambulance NI Agribusiness Group who were awarded Campaign of the Year is small but mighty. The group of ten individuals is made up of Barclay Bell, Libby Clarke, Aurelie Moralis, Caroline Doyle, James Speers, Jennifer Hawkes, Malachy Dolan, Martyn Blair, Oonagh Chesney and Raymond Bready. 

During the worst of the covid-19 pandemic and its impact on capacity to fundraise, the charity’s trustee, Barclay Bell was confident that the farming and agricultural community across NI would still be keen to support and came up with the idea to bring a group of like-minded agricultural influencers together. 

The group have been fantastic ambassadors for the charity, continuing the message of need with a clear call to action in key events including an online auction followed by a competition for a heifer and participation in charity key events. The group has further inspired support from other farming organisations including Young Farmers Clubs, agribusiness sector and events including Balmoral Show.

Barclay Bell said, “The energy and dedication from the group is truly fantastic.  We are all motivated by the one goal – to help ensure medical team is available to lift off for the next patient who may need it.  Sadly, the air ambulance is needed on average twice a day and with around 25,000 farm businesses in Northern Ireland accidents are unfortunately still happening much too regularly. We are all very pleased to see our local air ambulance recognized in these national awards and we won’t be taking a back seat as we’re now planning more events and activities for 2022.  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the group and the farming and rural communities who have supported the charity.”

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