Ambulance Crews deal with the most vulnerable in our society on a daily basis. This is their vocation. They have always done it and often, when delivering highest quality care to patients, they expose themselves to considerable risk.

None of them, however, could have predicted the frequency with which they would have to face the risks associated with the spread of the Coronavirus. Every call is now one of major concern for our crews. They have the constant worry that this call, or the next, might be the one when they contract the virus. Of course, they fear for their own health but, even more so, they fear for their families – their children, their parents, their partners. They do not want to pass this virus on to the ones they love most. The added pressure on every call makes a 12 hour shift seem very long indeed.

They could, therefore, be forgiven for just switching off and thinking only of themselves when their rest days come around, but they don’t! Their minds are still out there with their friends and colleagues continuing this battle against Covid and the other challenges ambulance crews face daily.

One of our colleagues, Emma McClughan, who is based in Magherafelt station possesses a particular talent apart from the qualities of compassion, kindness and empathy which she brings to her job. Emma is also an artist.

Recently, having completed a shift pattern, Emma found that, on her day off, her thoughts were still with her colleagues and in an effort to make sense of the situation we all find ourselves in, she took to the canvas. The result has captured the imagination of her friends and colleagues in the ambulance service and beyond.

Emma captured on canvas those things from her working day that are most important to her. Her image captures, in the form of a guardian angel, the worry felt by the crews in the ambulance and on the Air Ambulance, and the hope that one day this will be past us as represented by that ever-present rainbow.

Emma posted her painting on her social media and was overwhelmed by the response and the positivity of the comments. She had obviously struck a chord. People offered to buy the painting and she could have sold it and kept the money. However, in a characteristic act of great generosity, Emma decided that any money she received would go to charity. As she works regularly with the HEMS crews and understands the vital role charity, Air Ambulance Northern Ireland, plays to continually raise funds, Emma has decided that any money raised from the limited edition prints of the picture will all go to AANI. The selection of charity was made easier by the family connection of a cousin being married to one of the doctors who is part of the HEMS team.

Emma hopes to raise more than £2000 from the sale of the prints which are available today from the AANI website. Breige Mulholland, welcoming this latest donation to AANI, emphasised how important it was to AANI at this time when fundraising activities have been affected by social distancing measures that have been introduced in the fight against the virus;

“We are so touched that Emma has used her talents in such a heartfelt and positive way in recognition of all that NIAS and AANI do 365 days of the year.  As a charity, we need to raise £2m a year to keep the HEMS operational.  Due to the virus all fundraising events in aid of AANI have been axed and our community are no longer able to support in the usual ways.  Yet trauma incidents continue to occur, and public support is crucial.  We thank Emma for her creativity and generosity and encourage those who can to buy a print from AANI’s website. It could save a life!”


NIAS Chief Executive, Michael Bloomfield praised the generosity and kindness of Emma saying

“I am constantly in awe of NIAS staff. Every day they give their all for patients and many go over and above what is expected of them. They are all being asked to give more at this time and I am so proud of the manner in which they have risen to the challenge.

But over the past couple of months, we have all been lucky to have been given an insight into some of their other talents – musical, dancing, poetry and now artistry. This image is one that has touched the hearts of many in the way in which it shows that we are all in this together and that there will be brighter days for us all to enjoy again.

The fact that Emma’s first thoughts were that this should be sold to raise money for the Charity Air Ambulance says so much about her as a person. It reflects a generosity of spirit which is so common among our staff and which is getting a chance to shine, like a rainbow, in these dark days. I am sure that her family is as proud of her as we all are. I just want to say to her – well done and thank you.”

Emma presented Michael Bloomfield with a framed print to be kept on display in the reception area.

You can buy your very own print of Emma’s painting here.

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