Air ambulance medics 'proud' and 'humbled' by royal medals after initial snub
WATCH: ITV News Meridian's Kit Bradshaw reports from Rochester Airport
Air ambulance medics have spoken of their pride at receiving the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Medal, after initially being excluded from the list of eligible recipients.
Local MPs had lobbied ministers when it emerged that paramedics, doctors and pilots working for the service were not included in the award.
The medal was designed for all military and emergency service workers with more than five years’ service, to mark the late Queen’s 70 years on the throne.
At a presentation ceremony at Rochester Airport, 41 frontline air ambulance workers were presented with their medals on Friday, 25 November.
Air ambulance doctor Prof Richard Lyon said: "I’ve been working with the air ambulance for almost a decade and I think the most striking thing about today was we got our medals together.
"We got them together with our pilots, with our paramedics, with many of the people who support the service on a day-to-day basis, and that’s exactly how we operate; as a team."
Conservative MP Tracey Crouch was one of 25 politicians from across Kent, Surrey and Sussex who signed a joint letter to the then Health Secretary Sajid Javid MP, arguing for the change.
Ms Crouch, who represents Chatham and Aylesford, told ITV News Meridian: “For us to have been successful in that campaign and to be here today to be able to present those medals is a real privilege.
"I feel very humbled to be in the company of these people who go to the most difficult of incidents, across our region."
WATCH: Air ambulance doctors, paramedics and pilots react to receiving their medals
David Welch, Chief Executive of Air Ambulance Charity Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS), said: "KSS wrote to Tracey Crouch earlier this year to highlight the exclusion of air ambulance staff from these awards and she immediately offered her support.
"Her actions resulted in the Department of Health and Social Care including eligible helicopter emergency medical services staff.
"Without Tracey Crouch’s support, and the support from all our local MPs across Kent, Surrey and Sussex as well as Air Ambulances UK, it would not have been possible for them to have received this honour."
KSS responded to 3,051 incidents in 2021, the busiest year in the service's 32-year history.
The vast majority of the charity's annual £15.1m budget is made up from public donations.